, Volume 80, Issue 1, pp 9-41

The rationality of science, critical thinking, and science education

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This paper considers two philosophical problems and their relation to science education. The first involves the rationality of science; it is argued here that the traditional view, according to which science is rational because of its adherence to (a non-standard conception of) scientific method, successfully answers one central question concerning science's rationality. The second involves the aims of education; here it is argued that a fundamental educational aim is the fostering of rationality, or its educational cognate, critical thinking. The ramifications of these two philosophical theses for science education are then considered, and a science education which takes reasons in science as its fundamental feature is sketched.

This paper is mainly drawn from other publications. The first section is taken from my (1985); the second from (1988), Chapter 2; and the third from (1988), Chapter 6. Since what appears here are truncated versions of those discussions, I urge interested readers to look to those other works for fuller treatments of the issues here discussed.