In what ways may disagreement aid the pursuit of knowledge in the natural and human sciences
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1. In what ways may disagreement aid the pursuit of knowledge in the natural and human sciences?
As human beings it is our intuition to seek a higher level of knowledge and truth, whether it be in the sciences, our own lives or in religion. With this pursuit of knowledge come boundaries and obstacles that hinder these intellectual advancements. These obstacles can appear in many forms, many of which are disagreements, whether it is religious disagreements, individual disagreements or idealistic disagreements. These disagreements arise from different paradigms or assumptions present in religion, personality, and ideals. Disagreements may be over the logic of arguments or value of evidence, therefore it is also possible that these disagreements may aid in the pursuit of knowledge. Throughout this paper I will be delving deeper into the pursuit of knowledge, as well as our logical reasoning, perception and emotions towards this knowledge when disagreements arise, allowing for the exploration of the ways in which disagreement may aid the pursuit of knowledge in the natural and human sciences.
The meaning of the word disagreement is vastly varied, for example it can range from the slight difference in opinion to a full-blown argument. It is my opinion that in human and natural sciences, differences of opinions can lead to further disagreements and fewer discoveries, however the in majority of situations this is not the case. The roots of disagreements lie in both perception and reason; when individual’s perception or reason are opposites, this often leads to disagreements, in all areas of life, not just sciences. The way of knowing perception is used to produce the theory whilst reason is used in order to reinforce the conjectures.
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Disagreements are a necessary component in sciences, both human and natural. Ideally, scientific concepts contend with each other based on evidence as opposed to competing against appealing slogans or ads. With increased efforts to prove a precise theory later on it is possible for discredited concepts to be revived. It is possible for ideas to be improved by peer disagreements and criticism. These disagreements, instead of extinguishing the idea, they cause further motivation to obtain more evidence of accuracy. Challenged ideas allow for the conduction of new studies and increased developments. Absolute ideas in science are non-existent, everything has the possibility to be questioned. Hypotheses develop into theories, theories become laws, and even laws may be questioned.
Scientists use reason to seek the true answers of any question. In conjunction with the differing types of disagreements, the value of contentions in progressing knowledge may be different in the human sciences as opposed to natural sciences. Human science is described as the study of human beings themselves and their behaviour, this field also includes subjects such as history, anthropology, and economics among other disciplines. Natural science is the study of the physical world in which we live. This branch of science deals with chemistry, biology, and physics, among others. In the field of human sciences discoveries usually include trends as opposed to absolute truths, therefore subject to more dispute. Therefore human sciences provide a plethora of disagreements as studies usually consist of questions and observations as opposed to the incontrovertible data and equations that shape the basis of natural science.
In the natural sciences, an example of how disagreements can aid in the pursuit of knowledge is present in Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, this theory is an extension of Newton’s Law of Gravity. Einstein disagreed with certain aspects of Newtons law, because of this questioning he conducted further research and created a theory that gives the present an increased understanding of the interaction between objects in gravitational fields and the universe.
Another example of disagreements leading to scientific advancements are technological developments for wartime. The Second World War nuclear attacks on the Japanese provinces of Hiroshima and Nagoya in 1945 (Atomic Bomb) created unfathomable destruction and permanent damage to the area and its people. However, through the reconstruction of the area scientists were able to measure the effects of nuclear radiation on the land and humans that were subject to exposure as well as furthering our understanding of the power of nuclear energy and its uses. War encompasses disagreements to an international level, however advances made in an effort to conquer the opposition have peaceful uses in the post-war world, such as an increase in understanding of the positive uses of nuclear power. Without the disagreements and conflict of war, mankind would be more technologically limited.
Although there are some examples of disagreements aiding in the pursuit of knowledge, there are situations in which this is not the case. As long as the disagreeing party’s are working from an unvaried scientific basis, focused on a common goal, disagreements about facts and explanations can assist the process. However when the fundamental principles may be so varied that there may be no common ground or basis of argument, in these situations disagreements hinder the furthering of intellectual advancements.
The theory of “creationism” versus the evolutionary theory is an example of an unproductive disagreement. Those who aid in the advancement of the creationism theory are arguing on the basis of religious beliefs and stories present in the bible as opposed to scientific fact. No amount of scientific is able to alter their opinions just as those who believe evolution are unchanged by the teachings of the Bible. Beyond the basis that there must be a theory for how humans developed on earth, there is no leeway for useful disagreements.
Climate change covers a topic that is subject to disagreements based on rational science as well as those based on less quantifiable areas. Disagreements regarding the extent of human involvement in the cause of climate change may produce the motivation to advance knowledge in that area, however those who explicitly deny its climate change’s existence, tend to base their opinion on emotion as opposed to reason. Similarly to the issue of creationism versus evolution, disagreements between the two differing perspectives are unlikely to aid in the pursuit of knowledge as a whole. The productivity of the disagreement relies upon the basis of each individuals argument, therefore when the basis of the arguments are so different, for example using emotion rather than reason and evidence, the efficiency of the disagreement decreases rapidly.
The pursuit of knowledge exists regardless of whether it is strived towards or accidental, and is present in the natural sciences or human sciences. It can be obtained through new discoveries or increased improvements on previous theories and may be contested regardless of its status in the scientific community. In the natural and human sciences disagreements may arise from a variety of different avenues, such as emotional responses to theories and laws as well as logical reasoning which dispute the evidence throughout scientific experiments. It is possible that disagreements may create negative results on discoveries and hinder the pursuit of knowledge, this is prominent in the issue of creationism versus evolution. Whilst negative effects of disagreements are possible, there may also be positive outcomes, which arise from detrimental events or the exposure of new ideas and perspectives that become apparent due to disagreements. Regardless of the form of disagreement and its outcome, they are present in every day discussions within these two fields of science and each side must work towards the same goal if concessions are to be reached, only then may disagreements aid in the pursuit of knowledge.
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