Philosophy of science

Geology to fight against ignorance

“This subject [the study of the Earth’s machine] is important for the human race, […] to the intelligent being Man, […] who, in contemplating his future interest, is led to enquire concerning causes […]. If, in pursuing this object, we employ our skill in research, not in forming vain conjectures; and if data are to be found, on which Science may form just conclusions, we should not long remain in ignorance with respect to the natural history of the Earth.”

Hutton, J. (1785). Theory of the Earth; or an Investigation of the Laws observable in the Composition, Dissolution, and Restoration of Land upon the Globe. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh1, 209-304.


A grand enterprise called science

“An idea may or may not be confirmed by further studies. Meanwhile, however, when research is still incomplete, the idea is a theory. If the theory is proved wrong, it was not necessarily also altogether a bad theory. At least it will  have simulated new research, which adds to knowledge.  That’s why many theories, even if they fail, are said to be heuristic, they are good for the promotion of discovery.”

Wilson, E. O. (2014). Letters to a young scientist, Liveright Publishing Corporation, pp. 244. 

“For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction.”

Newton, I. (1713). General Scholium, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (second edition).