Scientific Explanations and Proof

As we have seen in earlier posts, explanations of the universe of the kind that pertain to reason rather than cause lie beyond the scope of physics and belong to a discipline known as metaphysics. Explanations of cause can only go so far as to exposit the cause-effect relationship between two given magisteria. These explanations of cause (which I will now refer to as ‘scientific explanations’) refer to a method known as “induction”, where specific examples are transferred into a general statement made about those specific examples. For instance, in any given closed system things tend to fall if not supported, and given the amount of air resistance working on those objects, they will accelerate to the ground. Hence, gravity.

This method of induction however, is limited in scope because necessity only comes when dealing with a limited number of examples and a limited field. The person cannot claim to have universal knowledge by just these certain limited examples, because it could be the case that some unknown example will not conform to the rule that was developed from the inductive method. It is due to this reason that science cannot provide us with definitive knowledge in a strict sense, but rather at best with probabilities that vary in degree. However, there is some merit in the scientific method by employing  experiment, observation, hypothesis, deduction and falsification in order to help us better understand the natural universe (indeed, science is good at that).


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