In several sections, there is reference to laws of science and theories.
What is a law of science?
The laws of science or scientific laws are statements that describe or predict a range of phenomena behave as they appear to in nature. The term “law” has diverse usage in many cases: approximate, accurate, broad or narrow theories, in all natural scientific disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy, etc.). An analogous term for a scientific law is a principle.
- Summarize a large collection of facts determined by experimentinto a single statement,
- can usually be formulated mathematically as one or several statements or equation, or at least stated in a single sentence, so that it can be used to predict the outcome of an experiment, given the initial, boundary, and other physical conditions of the processes which take place,
- are strongly supported by empirical evidence– they are scientific knowledge that experiments have repeatedly verified (and never falsified). Their accuracy does not change when new theories are worked out, but rather the scope of application, since the equation (if any) representing the law does not change. As with other scientific knowledge, they do not have absolute certainty (as mathematical theorems or identities do), and it is always possible for a law to be overturned by future observations.
- are often quoted as a fundamental controlling influence rather than a description of observed facts, g., “the laws of motion require that…”
Laws differ from hypotheses and postulates, which are proposed during the scientific process before and during validation by experiment and observation. These are not laws since they have not been verified to the same degree and may not be sufficiently general, although they may lead to the formulation of laws. A law is a more solidified and formal statement, distilled from the repeated experiment.
Although the nature of a scientific law is a question in philosophy and although scientific laws describe nature mathematically, scientific laws are practical conclusions reached by the scientific method; they are intended to be neither laden with ontological commitments nor statements of logical absolutes.
According to the unity of science thesis, all scientific laws follow fundamentally from physics. Laws which occur in other sciences ultimately follow from physical laws. Often, from mathematically fundamental viewpoints, universal constants emerge from scientific laws.
Laws of science are trying to avoid ontological commitments, but this is not possible because we try to register “facts” by observation. Observing is a very complex act, as will be discussed later on. We compare the observations of many people, and if they are congruent, we more or less declare these as an overall objective observation. Such, while knowing that the process of observation has a lot of inherent hidden assumptions to fulfill. Objectivity is unattainable. It is commonly shared subjectivity.
Laws of science are supposed to be more powerful when formulated in a mathematically way, in an equation. The equation predicts the causal outcome of empirical experiments. An experiment is an orderly procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, refuting or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments provide insight into cause-and-effect by demonstrating what outcome occurs when a particular factor varies.
Executing an experiment by definition is an outcome in observations of results in time. Time in itself is assumed to be an independent variable that links into a certain set of constants of nature.
It all refers to epistemological assumptions and starting points to synchronize observations and to declare them objective.
Some of these laws of science are so “obvious” that in practice we lose track on the assumptions and starting points as related to the stated equation. By doing so, we run the risk of becoming gradually blindfolded and apply these laws as dogmas.
We therefore sometimes have to rethink the paradigms of such laws of science. In science and epistemology (the theory of knowledge), a paradigm is a distinct set of concepts or thought patterns, including theories, research methods, postulates, and standards for what constitutes legitimate contributions to a field of knowledge.
In Particle Physics, we must be aware that there are theories like general relativity and quantum physics, as well as macrocosmic laws of science that are giving conflicting results when describing cross-border thought experiments. We, therefore, must be willing to reconsider the paradigms, assumptions and starting points related to this set of theories.