Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It

Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best ever "The Great Courses" This course is hard to categorize because it explores the philosophy of science as well as the scientific method. It is simply stunning in its scope. Dr. Goldman's presentation is passionate, thorough and compelling. A knock-out!!!
Date published: 2019-06-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Epistemology on Steroids In 24 lectures, this course discusses the nature of scientific knowledge, from a historical and philosophical point of view. Specifically, it addresses the dichotomy of (1) science as revealing concepts and truths that are objective, absolute, and independent of our understanding of them, versus (2) scientific knowledge as provisional and evolutionary over time as it is qualified and extended by new discoveries, concepts, and technology. This is heavy stuff—definitely a graduate-level course for people with both a solid grounding in science and also some background in philosophy—and I found it both excellent and hard work, whose content I could not handle in doses exceeding one lecture a day. Professor Goldman is impressive: brilliant, insightful, and erudite. The course in video is almost entirely just him standing there (or, actually, gesturing as he paces back and forth), with very little illustrative material, for content that is often conceptually both complex and abstract—although I think that on audio it would have been even more difficult to concentrate on and follow. Dr Goldman is as articulate as any course presenter I have encountered, although I must say he also wins the prize for the longest, most complex sentences—often more than 100 words long, with dependent clauses within dependent clauses, yet always grammatically correct. This feature, combined with the highly abstract, frequently subtle nature of the topics under discussion made this course the most challenging I have taken. Worth it, though: I learned a lot.
Date published: 2019-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great insights about scientific knowledge In order to better understand “what scientists know”, the course examines the history of a variety of scientific theories. By doing so, we come to understand the nature of truth, knowledge, and reality from the perspective of science – namely, that scientific theories employ deductive logic but are ultimately based on specific assumptions that reflect current empirical evidence, that the scientific community itself, to some extent, defines “truth” through the use of language and socially accepted values, and that theories evolve or are replaced over time as scientists gain additional experience (possibly through the use of new instrumentation). As a result of this analysis, we must conclude that science thus far has not and in principle cannot define reality, though no one would dispute the value of science as demonstrated even in our everyday lives. It’s interesting to read in the description of other science courses offered by The Great Courses statements that science defines reality. Prof Goldman is able to convincingly present theories others have had about scientific knowledge. In fact, his presentations of these alternative theories are so faithful, unbiased, and convincing that I found myself paradoxically agreeing with conflicting theories. It’s not clear to me upon completion of the course whether Prof Goldman holds that no knowledge is possible, if even science is not able to claim “knowledge” in the philosophical sense. If no “knowledge” is possible, must we conclude that the theory presented in this course also does not constitute “knowledge” of reality? But if that’s our conclusion, then aren’t we just validating the theory? One aspect of the course which I found somewhat confusing is that certain topics are covered multiple times, from different perspectives. For example, the same ideas might be covered through an historical / chronological analysis, and then again when exploring “Scientific Knowledge as Social Construct”, the view of one individual, or the perspective from the scientific community. It felt like we were just repeating material we had already covered earlier in the course. I thought this was an excellent course and would highly recommend it.
Date published: 2018-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome course - listened to it many times. I purchased this course years ago and I still listen to it regularly because as I get more immersed into the language and intellectual processes of philosophers, I actually get MORE out of the course. Excellent product !
Date published: 2018-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very clear and precise as well as unbiased I just finished this course and I am totally satisfied with it. The lectures were very easy to follow and absorb and seemed to take in a large variety of contrasting viewpoints. The lecturer seemed to me to make deliberate efforts to be unbiased and fair to the various viewpoints. It was a joy to be presented with the historical path of this topic through the centuries up to where we stand today.
Date published: 2018-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Knowledge Wars: Plato/Aristotle v Sophists A tongue-in-cheek suggestion for those who have objected to what they consider a misleading title. For this is not a discussion of one scientific concept vis-à-vis another but a deep dive into how do we (or does anyone) know anything and how do we know that we know it. The course begins by considering the difficulties of truth and knowledge. Professor Robinson in his careful consideration and analysis often refers to “truth with a capital ‘T’” so that we are warned to not take these concepts lightly. Early on Professor Robinson challenges us to think about “the scientific method”. Is there one? Or are they several, differing ones? And if so which is correct? Just a sample of the problems that this course presents—almost always thought-provoking and at times unsettling. And even when Dr. Robinson gives us some hard science and scientists he does so with a twist. For example, Copernicus and Galileo may have been presenting their beliefs, not necessarily theories based on “scientific method”. Then we get Newton and are presented with the problem of knowing “what is truth”? After all, Newton really did not get everything right, but even so everything works. What makes a theory true? In a later lecture we are shown that not even when a theory “works” and is able to predict phenomena, it does not necessarily follow that the theory is true (with a capital “T”). All of this means that the course’s focus is really as much about philosophy as it is about science. Professor Robinson interweaves science and scientists with philosophy and philosophers with seeming ease and apparent knowledge of both. For me the course really is at its best in the latter third, when Kuhn’s challenge to the objectivity of science caused many to doubt if objectivity was possible at all. To be sure the course considers these thinkers and their ideas very carefully and without prejudice. Just as those who responded to the challenge of objectivity not being possible were given equal time. Even when the (to me) delightful “Sokal’s Hoax”, that parodied postmodernism, was presented, Professor Robinson followed up with a counter to Sokal by another scientist. In short, Professor Robinson is fair and objective as he presents arguments, counter-arguments and counter-counter-arguments. This is the second course I have taken from Professor Robinson and he is as passionate and delightful in this one as I found him in his discussion of 20th century science. For me he is not too fast and his occasional digressions add to the lectures rather than subtracting.
Date published: 2018-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent, enticing choice I have watched/listened to about 50 courses offered by the Teaching Company. This is among the best. Professor Steven Goldman is a captivating speaker - powerful, erudite, concise. His command of the material and range of scholarship are staggering. The course is well organized, the material is stimulating, and the presentation is comprehensible and altogether compelling.
Date published: 2017-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course! Important for Today This course covers the emergence of modern scientific understanding and how what we think scientists do and know has changed over time. Dr. Goldman's knowledge is impressive; his presentation of the history and philosophical issues is crisp, clear and one of the most cogent I have ever heard. I have already listened to the course 2X and find it packed with points and connections I have never been able to clearly make until hearing Dr. Goldman's lectures. One of the very best courses I have ever had from the Teaching Company.
Date published: 2017-08-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Philosopher good- scientist bad I agree with some of the other less than positive reviews. I also come form the background of a scientist, with a strong interest in history, and less interest in philosophy. Professor Goldman tells us that, from a purely (overly?) rational viewpoint of 'truth' Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Hooke etc. knew nothing which was true. He relishes repeating several times that Einstein's theories showed that Newton was wrong- in his axioms, his formulas, and his conclusions. Which is a tad harsh. However there is hope - enter, of course, Locke, Hobbes, Hume, and Kant. who give us 'theories of knowledge.' Hume , for example, makes the stunning 'breakthrough discovery' that, rationally, the fact that an experiment has shown a certain result in the past does not say it will do so in the future. Thus, if a sugar cube dissolved every time it was placed in water, that does not mean it will do so next time. The statement 'a sugar cube dissolves in water' is thus not 'true'. That is pretty much the entire point of the course. If you were curious, as I was about such things as the competing methods of scientific discovery - empirical vs deductive, probability curves vs idiosyncratic results, etc,. and which successful scientist used and developed which methodologies in their discoveries, you will not find that here.
Date published: 2017-06-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought provoking Science has always been very elusive. This course focuses on how the meaning of science has evolved from Plato to what we think of as science in the modern era.
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent summation of the Science Wars The course is an excellent history and summation of the rise and influence of philosophy on the way scientific exploration is conducted and its results are analyzed. Discussions include background from the entire history of philosophy in the modern era (1700's forward) and how those ideas, especially those from the 20th century forward, influenced not only the way scientific discoveries are perceived by the general public but also how these ideas influenced the way Scientists themselves thought about their work.
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Albert Einstein: Physicist,Philosopher,Humitarian What a fascinating history of Einstein's life and works! I knew about his relativity contributions, but not about his doubts about quantum mechanics, NOR about his questioning the creation of the atomic bomb, even though it was based on his own E=mc(squared) equation. And it was interesting how he grew up not being much affected by being a Jew, but how he eventually got very active in his Jewish identity.
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course About Scientific Knowledge Thoroughly enjoyed this course. I took one like it back when I was an undergraduate physics major. This refreshed my knowledge of what I had learned and brought me up to speed into the early 21st Century.
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Watch this first. Of all the Great Courses I have, this is easily the best introduction to thinking. It develops thinking not just about thr scientific method but whay approach to studying the art of thiught. His historical presentation gives context to some of the eternal questions mankind has thought about.
Date published: 2017-01-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Worthwhile A good set of lectures. I don't think it is what the instructor intended, but it makes a good case for eschewing the term Scientist and a return to the idea of this endeavor as Natural Philosophy. Let the discussion begin...
Date published: 2016-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from In Defense of Philosophy I think therefore I am. At least I think I think. Descartes would definitely say I know I think. But then what does it mean to know? Sometimes the philosophy of knowledge seems like babel to me. Then there is Science! Now that's something I can sink my thoughts into. It's also a place where the philosophy of knowledge makes sense. In some sense modern science is the child of the philosophy of knowledge through the works of philosophers like Bacon and Descartes. It is the job of science philosophers to question scientists' intellectual wanderings, to test the claims of science for coherence, and to help the rest of us place science in our value systems. That is the core of this course. Some will find it too abstract but Professor Goldman does a good job of making this difficult discipline accessible and entertaining. His presentations are lively, conversational, and chock full of knowledge. Natural philosophy has been around for a very, very long time. Archimedes figured out why things float in the 3rd century BC. So it seems strange that science, as we know it today didn't evolve until the 17th and 18th centuries. It took philosophy to bring it about. Then came Newton and great minds saw what was possible with a scientific approach. When we look at theories like Archimedes' and Newton's it hard to see how they could be anything but descriptions of what really is but philosophers have always debated that nature of all knowledge, scientific knowledge included. Professor Goldman walks us through these thoughts, through to the work of Thomas Kuhn. Kuhn taught us that science isn't what we thought it was. Professor Goldman gives an excellent treatment of Kuhn's work and the later philosophers that questioned him. Today, the mathematics of science is beyond the reach of all but the very few. Physicists generate airy theories decades before any experimental evidence supports them and then they design incomprehensibly complex and expensive instrumentation to find exactly what they are looking for. Is this still science? Professor Goldman examines that question in detail. Science holds a lofty position in our society. I think that's justified but we need philosophy of science both to help us comprehend the nature of scientific knowledge and to keep science on a justifiable path.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Science Doesn't Know Reality but Actualities So I have training as a scientist and in my early years quickly learned that if your ideas deviated too much from the status quo you wouldn't get published. My background was in the neurosciences, getting my Ph.D. in 1975. I thought much of the neuroscience work being done in the 1970s was BS and have since learned that 95% of what we know about the brain has been learned in the last 25 years. I suspect that 25 years from now, they will say the same thing. But that's the story of science itself. And that's because what science knows changes every 25 to 100 years, depending on the resistance to the current scientists of new information. This is review in an exceptional manner in this course. What's missing however, is a discussion of why and a lot of the material explained in Korzybski's Science and Sanity. Most other books that questioned nature of what we know were mentioned, so why not this one. However, overall I loved this course and will listen to it several times. However, the conclusion is rather lame. He says science can never no reality, so lets invent a new word, actualities. And what happens he says is that science continually redefines what it knows about actualities.
Date published: 2016-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a philosophy course This course is or at least starts about evolution of scientific philosophy, not what I thought it would be. However, astronomy is one of my favorite subjects, and the course included sessions on Galileo, Isaac Newton and Einstein. I managed to enjoy those 3 sessions immensely, in spite of how much I hate philosophy. The professor is a consummate speaker and teacher. Unfortunately, because of my aversion to philosophy, I don't think I'll be able to listen to the other sessions. Maybe I'll skip to the end.
Date published: 2016-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superlative I have all three of Prof. Goldman's courses. Brilliant, spellbinding. He's the Master.
Date published: 2016-08-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Historical Review of Philosophy of Science This is the first Great Course I've thought was a waste of time and money. It's not about current disputes over scientific ideas. The vast majority is a historical review of the development of the philosophy of science, the 'what is knowledge' question as it has evolved since the time of Plato. The professor is quite enthusiastic and taken with his subject, but I had a difficult time staying focused as he threw out name after name and philosophical concept after concept. It all blended together into a giant mishmash and I found myself constantly wondering why I cared about anything he had to say. My undergraduate degree was in the biological sciences and my advanced degree in critical thinking, but I just couldn't follow this course or professor at all. If you do decide to try this one, just understand that it is first and foremost an historical review of the evolution of the philosophy of scientific reasoning, not a course dealing with competing scientific theories on specific topics.
Date published: 2016-07-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not the content I had hoped I actually returned this course so my review is only from a partial listen. From the first handful of lectures, I could tell this course is much more about philosophy than science. It is centered around the word "knowledge" and how it is obtained. I was hoping for more of a science course. The professor is wonderful though. I just didn't like the subject. He is one of the more enjoyable lecturers I have listened to from the teaching company.
Date published: 2016-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Multidisicplanary Approach to Philo. of Science Goldman is uniquely qualified to elucidate important issues and debates within the philosophy of science while simultaneously showing how such matters (e.g. questions about Truth, objectivity, knowledge, method, evidence, et al.) have shaped the institutions of modern science and technology. He is very knowledgeable in several domains including philosophy, science, mathematics, history and sociology. This enables him to make connections that more narrowly focused lecturers might not. Prof. Goldman thinks and expounds a bit rapidly, so reviewing the guide-book might be helpful for those not already steeped in philosophy of science. The lectures are part philosophy and part intellectual history and, imo, always thought provoking. Video is not essential for this course, although there are some useful illustrations, diagrams, equations, photos and definitions onscreen if you are visually oriented. The course is from 2006 so the graphics are not super high-tech. The guide-book contains concise outlines of all lectures, a timeline, glossary and an annotated bibliography but It does not include any graphics (e.g. astronomical diagrams, charts, photos etc.) found in the video. Finally, this professor literally thinks on his feet as he moves to and fro, keeping the camera man busy throughout. If such a peripatetic style makes you dizzy, I recommend audio (though I enjoyed watching him thinking in motion, as opposed to reading from a teleprompter). I have seen or heard all 3 of Goldman's courses and have not been disappointed by any of them. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2016-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Course I Have Heard In Great Courses This course is superb. It is presented in a dynamic conversational style, not a monotone read from a transcript. Unlike many of the other philosophy professors, this prof also has a degree in hard science (physics). What a difference it makes ! This course could also be titled "Reality Wars" as Dr. Goldman ultimately is dealing with "what is reality and can we ever know it". However, he does not deal with the subject using the word games and "philo-babble " so common with philosophers. I have advanced degrees in science and appreciated Dr. Goldman's obvious deep knowledge of many scientific topics. The bottom line is that he examines issues perhaps deeper than those dealt with in any r course for sale here and does a great job. My only criticisms were that he should have spent more time explaining 1.Why (alluded to only) Popper's falsification is "wrong" . 2. Spent as much time on the question of wheher or not string theory is science as he did on creationism. The latter is obviously not science but the former may or may not be in that category.
Date published: 2015-10-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Philosophy Wars The title of this course is misleading, a more accurate title would be 'Philosophy Wars: The Rambling History of a Soft Science'. If you are looking for knowledge about the hard sciences, avoid this course.
Date published: 2015-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved it I have listened to about 20-25 great courses, and I just wrote a review for the first one to disappoint me, so to be fair, I'm coming back to write a review of my favorite course so far. The gist of this one is how do we know what we know -- or how do we *think* we know what we know, and what is our method for finding out more? Of course, two major approaches to that set of questions are science and religion, but neither is as simple as it seems. This course explores the different methods and beliefs over the centuries that philosophy, religion, and science have applied to the subject of "knowledge." I thought it was fascinating.
Date published: 2015-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof Goldman is my hero I cannot get enough of Prof Goldman. Its as if the questions he addresses are those questions that I have long harboured but not heard addressed, till now. I have purchased the audio product which I find very easy to follow. I look forward to listening and re-listening to Prof Goldman in the years to come. Congratulations to the Great Courses for producing such works and thanks to Prof Goldman for such shear intellectual brilliance, clarity of thought and superb teaching skills
Date published: 2015-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superlative, in a class all by himself I've listened to 3-4 dozen "The Great Courses" professors. Dr. Goldman is by far the very best, in a class by himself because of (1) his dynamic and flawless presentation, (2) the very rich content of his course, and (3) his amazing ability to recall minute details, dates, names, title of books, and lines of philosophical and scientific arguments. Apparently he is one of those few with the ability of absolute recall of anything and everything he's ever read or heard. In addition, he is able to correctly pronounce the German oe and ue vowels that only few Americans are able to do. He has closely approximated the correct pronunciation even of the names of such Hungarian mathematicians and scientists as Eotvoes, Bolyai-Farkas, Polanyi, and Lakatos to which I can attest having been raised in Budapest. By contrast, many lecturers in The Great Courses series make a regular habit of butchering French and German names (forget about Hungarian names) that any well-educated American should be able to pronounce correctry. Also, by contrast to Dr. Goldman, many other lecturers not only stumble over their words but are disconcertingly glued to teleprompters in front of them on either side from which they read the text of their lectures, That practice shows lack of adequate knowledge of their course materials in general and lack of adequate preparation for their lectures coupled with their pitiable lack of self-confidence as lecturers/public speakers. Dr. Goldman, as a master instructor, could give pointers to most of the other lecturers at The Great Courses. I would heartily recommend all the other courses by Dr. Steven Louis Goldman.
Date published: 2015-02-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought-provoking This course covers, in an historical fashion, the question of whether science can reveal the reality behind experience. As a science-oriented person, I have always assumed that was the case, without thinking about it critically. So this course raised questions new to me, and Professor Goldman presents the arguments well. I recommend this course to anyone who wishes to explore the nature of knowledge, of what we can know and what we think we know.
Date published: 2014-12-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Of Inestimable Value Dr. Steven L. Goldman presents the nature and history of science in a most effective way. Of the two dozen Great Courses lectures that I have watched, I find these lectures on the philosophy of science to be of the highest relevance and effectiveness. His presentation is absorbing, riveting, captivating and enthralling. Difficult philosophical concepts are explained so well that one is increasingly filled with enthusiasm for the subject. If we want to avoid the scientism that has permeated western society, we need to understand the nature and development of science, and Dr. Goldman has succeeded in helping us do that. I believe that this set of lectures should be an indispensible part of the education of not only scientists and engineers, but anyone who is interested in the nature of knowledge and truth. Any educated person who has not heard these lectures I consider to be deprived of a complete education. If I were to recommend only one set of lectures to buy and watch, Science Wars is the one. The need for its message cannot be overstated.
Date published: 2014-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As philosophical as it is historical This course explores a long-running gap or problem point in the philosophy of knowledge, showing how an eminent succession of philosopher-scientists attempted to repair the crack, with little lasting success. The professor maintained my interest throughout, and I believe this course would have value to anyone interested in epistemology, philosophy of science or the deep roots of recent disputes over the provability of science.
Date published: 2014-11-13
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Knowledge and Truth Are Age-Old Problems
1: Knowledge and Truth Are Age-Old Problems

What is it that scientists know, and how do they know what they know? The "science wars" in the late 20th century were a dispute within modern science that signals a deep, longstanding conflict over this question....

32 min
Competing Visions of the Scientific Method
2: Competing Visions of the Scientific Method

This lecture casts doubt on the popular notion that the rise of modern science in the early 17th century was the result of discovering a single method for extracting objective truths about nature from subjective experience....

30 min
Galileo, the Catholic Church, and Truth
3: Galileo, the Catholic Church, and Truth

The Catholic Church has been cast as villain in its condemnation of Galileo, but a great deal hinges on whether Galileo possessed knowledge and was defending truth, or was promoting personal opinions based on his beliefs....

30 min
Isaac Newton's Theory of the Universe
4: Isaac Newton's Theory of the Universe

Isaac Newton's mathematical theory of gravity and motion works, and for more than 200 years was lauded as finally giving knowledge of physical reality. But Newtonian physics is wrong, in spite of "working."...

31 min
Science vs. Philosophy in the 17th Century
5: Science vs. Philosophy in the 17th Century

From the beginning, modern science used novel instruments that disclosed realities that cannot be experienced directly. But the very novelty of these instruments raised questions about what it was they revealed....

31 min
Locke, Hume, and the Path to Skepticism
6: Locke, Hume, and the Path to Skepticism

John Locke formulated the classic empirical theory of knowledge, while George Berkeley mounted a vigorous attack on modern science, and David Hume embraced skepticism, criticizing unjustifiable knowledge claims....

31 min
Kant Restores Certainty
7: Kant Restores Certainty

Immanuel Kant invented a philosophical system that guaranteed universal, necessary, and certain knowledge, but at a price. We could have knowledge of experience, but not of the world as it "really" is, beyond experience....

31 min
Science, Society, and the Age of Reason
8: Science, Society, and the Age of Reason

The role that scientific knowledge plays in society today is the realization of the 18th-century Enlightenment vision linking social reform and the idea of progress to reason by way of science....

31 min
Science Comes of Age in the 19th Century
9: Science Comes of Age in the 19th Century

In spite of science's growing applicability to the real world through technology, scientists began to question the relationship between theories and reality, influenced by such startling ideas as non-Euclidean geometry....

31 min
Theories Need Not Explain
10: Theories Need Not Explain

Joseph Fourier and others showed that a theory can provide prediction and control without describing realities behind experience. But then as now, the dominant view was that scientific theories reveal what is really out there....

32 min
Knowledge As a Product of the Active Mind
11: Knowledge As a Product of the Active Mind

William Whewell invented the term "scientist" and tried to demonstrate that creative activity by the mind is a fundamental factor in scientific reasoning, and that the history of science is crucial in understanding this process....

31 min
Trading Reality for Experience
12: Trading Reality for Experience

This lecture looks at thinkers as diverse as Ernst Mach, Pierre Duhem, and Heinrich Hertz, who argued from three different perspectives that theories were non-unique interpretations of experience, not descriptions of reality....

31 min
Scientific Truth in the Early 20th Century
13: Scientific Truth in the Early 20th Century

Ironically, just as science increasingly mattered to the general public, and for that reason scientific knowledge was accepted as true, the 19th-century scientific theories responsible for this perception were being discarded!...

32 min
Two New Theories of Scientific Knowledge
14: Two New Theories of Scientific Knowledge

The most proscience philosophies in the first half of the 20th century were logical positivism, which embraced the primacy of scientific knowledge, and pragmatism, a homegrown American philosophy that rejected it....

32 min
Einstein and Bohr Redefine Reality
15: Einstein and Bohr Redefine Reality

Relativity and quantum theory raised new questions about the relationship of science to reality. This lecture addresses these questions, which continue unresolved to this day....

32 min
Truth, Ideology, and Thought Collectives
16: Truth, Ideology, and Thought Collectives

The most radical theory of scientific knowledge to be formulated in the 1930s came from immunologist Ludwik Fleck, who used the history of syphilis as a vehicle for exploring what scientists know and how they know it....

32 min
Kuhn's Revolutionary Image of Science
17: Kuhn's Revolutionary Image of Science

The 1962 publication of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions sparked a reassessment by intellectuals of the privileged status of scientific knowledge and more broadly of the possibility of true objectivity....

32 min
Challenging Mainstream Science from Within
18: Challenging Mainstream Science from Within

Scientific thinking has a collective character shaped by education and professional community life, but scientific theories also evolve, and highly credentialed "outsiders" play a role....

32 min
Objectivity Under Attack
19: Objectivity Under Attack

Israel Scheffler and Paul Feyerabend assumed opposite stances in response to Kuhn's thesis. Independently, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida launched an attack on the very possibility of objective knowledge....

32 min
Scientific Knowledge as Social Construct
20: Scientific Knowledge as Social Construct

In the 1980s, a consensus formed that scientific and technological knowledge were not value-neutral, but the products of communal practices deeply affected by professional and societal values....

32 min
New Definitions of Objectivity
21: New Definitions of Objectivity

While many intellectuals after 1960 were busily denouncing Western ideals of rationality, knowledge, and truth as politically motivated myths, many philosophers of science proposed defensible theories of scientific realism....

32 min
Science Wars of the Late 20th Century
22: Science Wars of the Late 20th Century

In 1996, a postmodern journal addressed the science wars after a decade of hostility between scientists and supporters of the social construction view. The journal unwittingly published a parody of postmodernism known as Sokal's hoax....

31 min
Intelligent Design and the Scope of Science
23: Intelligent Design and the Scope of Science

Is intelligent design a scientific hypothesis? This question highlights issues of who defines what science is, what constitutes good science, and what words like rationality, truth, knowledge, and reality mean....

32 min
Truth, History, and Citizenship
24: Truth, History, and Citizenship

At a time when science is involved in profound social, moral, and environmental challenges, misunderstanding the positions of competing interpretations of science is an obstacle to effective action....

33 min
Steven L. Goldman

After 50 years, I continue to find new depths and fresh excitement in studying the history and philosophy of science.


Boston University


Lehigh University

About Steven L. Goldman

Dr. Steven L. Goldman is the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Lehigh University, where he has taught for 30 years. He earned his B.S. in Physics at the Polytechnic University of New York and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Boston University.

Before taking his position at Lehigh, Professor Goldman taught at The Pennsylvania State University, where he was a cofounder of one of the first U.S. academic programs in science, technology, and society studies.

Professor Goldman has received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award from Lehigh University. A prolific author, he has written or edited eight books, including Science, Technology, and Social Progress, and he has an impressive list of scholarly articles and reviews to his credit. He has been a national lecturer for the scientific research society Sigma Xi and a national program consultant for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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