n English in Africa - Science and truth

Volume 40, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



A. W. Sloan (1979), in his elegant presidential address to the Royal Society of South Africa, states that science is "a search for the truth," the truth being "a pragmatic concept which explains phenomena." Science, he continues, depends on certain pre-suppositions, including a belief in order and harmony, although science itself is never static but constantly undergoing change as well as expansion. The scientist, observes Sloan, starts with some preconceived theory, and selects the relevant (as opposed to random) data - in order not to waste time. He makes a point of including Hume's (1777) contention that all science is contingent. Sloan also refers to Thomas Kuhn (1962) and Karl Popper (1959, 1972) in his address; and, perhaps surprisingly, some degree of formal logical congruency is discernible, despite their differing approaches to the subject, among the three of them in their scientific thinking.

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