Advertisement

Science & Education

, Volume 25, Issue 7–8, pp 775–794 | Cite as

Knowledge, Belief, and Science Education

A Contribution from the Epistemology of Testimony
  • Tiago Alfredo S. Ferreira
  • Charbel N. El-HaniEmail author
  • Waldomiro José da Silva-Filho
Article

Abstract

This article intends to show that the defense of “understanding” as one of the major goals of science education can be grounded on an anti-reductionist perspective on testimony as a source of knowledge. To do so, we critically revisit the discussion between Harvey Siegel and Alvin Goldman about the goals of science education, especially where it involves arguments based on the epistemology of testimony. Subsequently, we come back to a discussion between Charbel N. El-Hani and Eduardo Mortimer, on the one hand, and Michael Hoffmann, on the other, striving to strengthen the claim that rather than students’ belief change, understanding should have epistemic priority as a goal of science education. Based on these two lines of discussion, we conclude that the reliance on testimony as a source of knowledge is necessary to the development of a more large and comprehensive scientific understanding by science students.

Keywords

Science Teaching Science Teacher Critical Thinking Scientific Theory True Belief 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Harvey Siegel, Ben McMyler, Michael Hoffmann, and two anonymous reviewers, who made valuable criticisms and comments on a previous version of this article, which greatly contributed to its improvement. We are also thankful to Nei Nunes-Neto, Rosileia Oliveira Almeida, Carlos Augusto Sartori, and Tiegue Vieira Rodrigues for their comments, which also contributed to improving the paper. We are also indebted to two anonymous reviewers who brought important contributions to the final version of the paper. We are thankful to the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) for the support to the research who led to this paper, through Grants Nos. 301259/2010-0 (CNEH) and 312567/2013-8 (WJSF). We also thank the Brazilian Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) for the Research Fellowship No. 002706/2015-06 (TASF).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Alters, B. J. (1997). Should student belief of evolution be a goal? Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 17, 15–16.Google Scholar
  2. Brigandt, I., & Love, A. (2015). Reductionism in biology. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2015/entries/reduction-biology/. Accessed 9 June 2016.
  3. Brown, J. (2004). Anti-individualism and knowledge. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Coady, C. A. J. (1973). Testimony and observation. American Philosophical Quartely, 10, 149–155.Google Scholar
  5. Coady, C. A. J. (1994). Testimony: A philosophical study. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cobern, W. W. (1996). Worldview theory and conceptual change in science education. Science Education, 80, 579–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dittrich, A. (2004). Behaviorismo radical, ética e política: aspectos teóricos do compromisso social. São Carlos, SP: Department of Philosophy, Federal University of São Carlos (Ph.D. thesis).Google Scholar
  8. Elgin, C. (2006). From knowledge to understanding. In S. Hetherington (Ed.), Epistemology futures (pp. 199–215). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. El-Hani, C., & Mortimer, E. (2007). Multicultural education, pragmatism, and the goals of science teaching. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 2, 657–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Faria, P. A. (2006). Preservação da verdade. O que nos faz pensar, 20, 101–126.Google Scholar
  11. Fumerton, R. (2006). The epistemic role of testimony: Internalist and externalist perspectives. In J. Lackey & E. Sosa (Eds.), The epistemology of testimony (pp. 77–92). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Geach, P. (1980). Logic matters. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  13. Goldman, A. I. (1979/1992). What is justified belief? In Liaisons: Philosophy meets the cognitive and social sciences (pp. 105–126). Cambridge, MA: Bradford.Google Scholar
  14. Goldman, A. I. (1999). Knowledge in a social world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goldman, A. I. (2012). Reliabilism and contemporary epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Goldman, A., & Olsson, E. J. (2009). Reliabilism and the value of knowledge. In A. Haddock, A. Millar, & D. Pritchard (Eds.), Epistemic value (pp. 19–41). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hoffmann, M. (2007). Learning without belief-change? Cultural Studies of Science Education, 2, 688–694.Google Scholar
  18. Hume, D. (1748/2007). An enquire concerning human understanding. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Kolsto, S. D., & Ratcliffe, M. (2008). Social aspects of argumentation. In S. Erduran & M. P. Jiménez-Aleixandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education (pp. 71–88). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  20. Kornblith, H. (Ed.). (2001). Epistemology: Internalism and externalism. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  21. Kusch, M. (2011). Social epistemology. In D. Pritchard & S. Bernecker (Eds.), The Routledge companion to epistemology (pp. 873–884). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Lackey, J. (1999). Knowledge and transmission. The Philosophical Quarterly, 49, 471–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lackey, J. (2006). Knowing from testimony. Philosophy Compass, 5, 432–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lackey, J. (2011). Testimonial knowledge. In D. Pritchard & S. Bernecker (Eds.), The Routledge companion to epistemology (pp. 316–325). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Lackey, J., & Sosa, E. (2006). The epistemology of testimony. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Price, H. H. (1969). Belief: The Gifford lectures. New York, NY: Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  27. Reid, T. (1764/1983). An inquiry into the human mind on the principles of common sense. In R. E. Beanblossom, & K. Lehrer (Eds.), Inquiry and essays (pp. 1–125). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.Google Scholar
  28. Reid, T. (1788/1983). Essays on the intellectual powers of man. In R. E. Beanblossom, & K. Lehrer (Eds.), Inquiry and essays (pp. 127–295). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.Google Scholar
  29. Rodrigues, A. (1998). Psicologia social. Rio de Janeiro: Vozes.Google Scholar
  30. Rorty, A. (Ed.). (1998). Philosophers on education: Historical perspectives. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Ryle, G. (1949/1984). The concept of mind. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  32. Shoemaker, S. (1963). Self-knowledge and self-identity. Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Siegel, H. (1988). Educating reason: Rationality, critical thinking, and education. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Siegel, H. (2005). Truth, thinking, testimony and trust: Alvin Goldman on epistemology and education. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 71, 345–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sinatra, G., Southerland, S. A., McConaughy, F., & Demastes, J. W. (2003). Intentions and beliefs in students’ understanding and acceptance of biological evolution. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40, 510–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Smith, M. U., & Siegel, H. (2004). Knowing, believing, and understanding: What goals for science education? Science & Education, 13, 553–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sosa, E. (1991/2000). Reliabilism and intellectual virtue. In A. Guy (Ed.), Knowledge, Belief, and Character: Readings in Virtue Epistemology (pp. 19–32). Lanham, Boulder: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  38. Vahid, H. (2011). Externalism/internalism. In D. Pritchard & S. Bernecker (Eds.), The Routledge companion to epistemology (pp. 144–155). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Zemplén, G. Á. (2011). History of science and argumentation in science education: Joining forces? In P. V. Kokkotas, K. S. Malamitsa, & A. A. Rizaki (Eds.), Adapting historical knowledge production to the classroom (pp. 129–140). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyFederal University of Bahia, BrazilFederação, SalvadorBrazil
  2. 2.History, Philosophy, and Biology Teaching Lab (LEFHBio), Institute of BiologyFederal University of Bahia, BrazilOndina, SalvadorBrazil
  3. 3.Department of PhilosophyFederal University of Bahia, BrazilFederação, SalvadorBrazil
  4. 4.Department of Linguistics and PhilosophyMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)CambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations