Science’s effectiveness has made it a subject of much philosophical speculation. The philosophy of science seeks to understand the nature and justification of scientific knowledge, and its ethical implications. It has proved remarkably difficult to provide an account of the scientific method that can serve to distinguish science from non-science.
The word science comes from the Latin word, scientia, which means knowledge.
Until the Enlightenment, the word "science" (or its Latin cognate) meant any systematic or exact, recorded knowledge. "Science" therefore had the same sort of very broad meaning that "philosophy" had at that time.
There was a distinction between, for example, "natural science" and "moral science," which latter included what we now call philosophy, and this mirrored a distinction between "natural philosophy" and "moral philosophy." More recently, "science" has come to be restricted to what used to be called "natural science" or "natural philosophy." Natural science can be further broken down into physical science and biological science. Social science is often included in the field of science as well.
Fields of study are often distinguished in terms of "hard sciences" and "soft sciences," and these terms (at times considered derogatory) are often synonymous with the terms natural and social science (respectively). Physics, chemistry, biology and geology are all forms of "hard sciences". Studies of anthropology, history, psychology, and sociology are sometimes called "soft sciences." Proponents of this division use the arguments that the "soft sciences" do not use the scientific method, admit anecdotal evidence, or are not mathematical, all adding up to a "lack of rigor" in their methods. Opponents of the division in the sciences counter that the "social sciences" often make systematic statistical studies in strictly controlled environments, or that these conditions are not adhered to by the natural sciences either (for example, behavioral biology relies upon fieldwork in uncontrolled environments, astronomy cannot design experiments, only observe limited conditions). Opponents of the division also point out that each of the current "hard sciences" suffered a similar "lack of rigor" in its own infancy.
The term "science" is sometimes pressed into service for new and interdisciplinary fields that make use of scientific methods at least in part, and which in any case aspire to be systematic and careful explorations of their subjects, including computer science, library and information science, and environmental science. Mathematics and computer science reside under "Q" in the Library of Congress classification, along with all else we now call science.
Basic theories of science -
Junk science -
National Science Foundation (USA) -
Pathological science -
Philosophy of science -
Science education -
Scientific enterprise -
Scientific misconduct -
Scientific materialism -
Scientific method -
Scientific revolution -
The relationship between religion and science -
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