Unit 2 Assignment 1 Selina Qian

The frontispiece reproduced on p. 60 represents three conceptual schemes in astronomy. Suppose that all three were able to predict, with the same degree of accuracy, all of the observational data at the time. Would there have been any scientific reason to favor one of these over the others? (Put another way: Does science have anything besides observational data to decide among rival theories?)

I think there are primarily two ways. The first is doing experiments. I think doing experiment is isolating and manipulating things in hope of producing useful evidence. The biggest distinction between experimenting and observation is that experiment isolate and control natural conditions, which contributes to determine single variables. If one has a hypothesis that magnetic attraction cause the planets to revolve around the sun, he needs to rule out the possibilities that other factors that may cause this happen. But hardly can we conduct experiments upon celestials body even with nowadays technologies.

Another possible way is mathematical reason. Take Kepler as an example, he used the data through observation to build a model that future observations can also apply. Math here is a strong tool to create inferential relations between observation and theory. One may believe earth is stationary because there isn’t a constant wind, but human observation are highly limited. We can not observe germs nor neuron transmitter, sun nor further galaxy. So it’s too limited to trust on what we see. Mathematics however, goes beyond human perception. We put the data from observation in the hand of math, then can we abandon the belief that things are perfectly moving in circle because heaven is perfect, and God says so.

Question: I understand science is the best way to understand “the message in the book of nature”. But things discussed in Unit 1 can not be put into the scheme of science. If philosophy is the scheme we use to interpret the “truth” of ethnic what are the correlations of philosophy and science? (Why philosophy can’t show as much application as science do? Why ethnic problems are moving slowly and didn’t revolution to humanize level?)

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