The rationality of science: a critical- theoretic perspective
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This study is an attempt to unveil a comprehensive and viable theoretical framework that can , be used to explicate the intuitive notion of science as the paragon of human rationality. The study was prompted by the existence of a puzzling state of affairs in philosophy of science. On one hand, the image generally projected of science is that of rationality per excellence and this image is recommended for the rest of society. On the other hand, philosophers disagree on exactly what the rationality of. science entails. A critical examination of the subject area reveals that there is no theory of rationality of science acceptable to all on offer. The concern of the study is therefore twofold: First, why is science intuitively taken as the, exemplar of human rationality? Second, are the assessments of science now offered themselves rational? In answering these questions, the study reveals that, the traditional assessment frameworks, normally called methodologies are intrinsically defective and therefore incapable of explicating the rationality of science. It demonstrates that methodologies posit a dichotomy between descriptive and normative conceptions of rationality. This dichotomy is shown to be false. These frameworks also promote an instrumentalist conception of the rationality, which the study proves to be inadequate for the explication of the rationality of science. On the basis of these findings, the study suggests a conceptual paradigm shift from the traditional framework that is subject-centered and mono logical to a synthetic critical theoretic framework that is dialogical. This framework is arrived at after integrating Jurgen Habermas linguistically grounded theory of cotnmunicative rationality with Karl popper's institutional theory of scientific progress. It emphasizes epistemically and institutionally structured inter-subjective communication as central to rationality. The ensuing synthesis generates a mUltidimensional', and comprehensive framework that explicates the rationality of science. The critical theoretic framework is significant because it clarifies our understanding of the nature of rationality and the nature of science, which are imperative in science studies, philosophy of education and epistemology.