Megan Geske Week2: Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District and Lakatos

September 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Posted in Week 2 | 6 Comments
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The Dover Area School District attempted to force teachers to read a disclaimer that evolution was “just a theory” and directed students to look into Intelligent Design for an alternative explanation. In 2005, a federal court decided via Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District that Intelligent Design (ID) was not science, and thus the Dover School Board could not require teachers to mention ID. Judge Jones noted that ID “violates centuries old ground rules of science” by relying on a supernatural cause. A supernatural force cannot be tested, and thus is not able to be disproven, going against basic scientific principles. Furthermore, there have been no peer-reviewed publications of ID, nor have there been tests and research about it. In fact, the scientific community has refuted ID.

Irme Lakatos is a philosopher of science. In his talk Science and Pseudoscience, he attempts to reconcile Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper’s differing theories of science. Lakatos claims that science is not simply “trial and error”, but rather the best way to look at science is through the concept of “research programmes”. A research programme involves a set of “hard-core” concepts, which are vigorously protected by scientists and auxiliary hypotheses. A progressive research program involves the “discovery of hitherto unknown novel facts”. In Lakatos theory, the most important things are “dramatic, unexpected, stunning predictions”.

The two articles provided two different looks into the philosophy of science. Lakatos provided a wide-reaching theory that science should yield dramatic predictions. In the court case Kitzmiller v. Dover area school District, Judge Jones more clearly defined the parameters of what is science and what is not. He makes claims that a scientific theory must be testable, falsifiable, based on facts, and accepted by the scientific community.

Question: How would Lakatos view the Kitzmiller v. Dover case? How would his ruling differ from that of Judge Jones?

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