“Science has been a process of continuous advancement towards objective truth”

This is one statement from which I wrote an essay for, in a past paper for the BMAT. The BioMedical Admissions Test, alongside the UKCAT, is one of the medicine admissions tests that medical schools might ask for and consists of 3 sections: Aptitude and Skills, Scientific Knowledge and Applications and a writing task. Unfortunately, pretty much the only way to prepare for either admissions test is practice, practice, practice so I decided to share one of my practice writing tasks with you….

 

This statement suggests that developments in science have all, always been working towards the discovery of a set of unchanging and unbiased facts. It suggests that the goal of all science is eventually to uncover these facts that have been consistent throughout mankind’s scientific journey. For example, the ‘discovery’ of gravity by Newton. Gravity has been around and affecting us always but only became apparent relatively recently, and cannot be denied or manipulated.

However, it can be argued that advancements in science have not been continuous, as we have had periods of rapid advancement followed by periods of stagnation often due to the limits of technology preventing further advancement. For example, the improvements in the microscope allowed for the Germ Theory to be discovered consequently. Sometimes, incidentally, stagnation was not brought on by technological limits but by limits to scientific advancement out of fear such as the Church historically discouraging new theories and discoveries of Galileo’s out of fear that they would challenge their teachings.

What’s more, it can be argued that the truths we work towards discovering are in fact not objective, nor as they unchanging as the statement might suggest. This ‘objectivity’ supposes that scientific fact is not affected by societal influences however I would argue the contrary, as the way those truths are perceived very much depends on when in history they are discovered and the state in which society is in at the time. Moreover, the scientific truths have not and will not always be the same as science is not as constant as it may seem. Facts are constantly changing, for examples evolution drives changes and adaptations in organisms, the universe is constantly changing with its expansion and the emergence or disappearance of stars.

The truths that science offers are always changing slowly but surely so that we are not working towards the same truths they may have worked towards a millennia ago an for this reason I cannot agree with this statement. Whilst science is about advancement, it is not always continuous and the truth is not objective.

 

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