Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

This article by Joanne Jacobs references in a positive light this article by Lenny Pier Ramos that depicts the idea of many ways of knowing as unhelpful and unscientific. My view is that this is a misrepresentation of science. While we may want "to objectively understand a testable reality," in fact (as I have argued in the past) a great deal of science depends on the interpretation we give to the observations and measurements we make. Is the universe fundamentally mechanical or animal? Do probabilities represent alternative realities or personal commitments to individual outcomes? Are interactions quantifiable, or ineliminably vague? Evidence underdetermines interpretation. Push any scientific perspective hard enough, and you get a 'way of knowing'. These are always personal and often cultural. This is the core finding of historians philosophers of science of the last fifty years, and yes, it is overturning what could be understood as a colonial doctrine of a unified society.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Jul 19, 2020 04:55 a.m.