This study considers the short list of Nature of Science (NOS) features frequently published and widely known in the science education discourse. It is argued that these features were oversimplified and a refinement of the claims may enrich or sometimes reverse them. The analysis shows the need to address the range of variation in each particular aspect of NOS and to illustrate these variations with actual events from the history of science in order to adequately present the subject. Another implication of the proposal is the highlighting of the central role of science educators who, facing various strong claims of researchers in education and philosophy of science, often have difficulty in making a choice of what to teach about NOS. It is suggested that a representative variation with regard to the traditional NOS claims may be appropriate for a genuine understanding of the subject. In that, using the discipline-culture structure of the fundamental theories of physics and addressing the plurality of scientific methods may be helpful in the actual teaching and learning of NOS.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
The problem is that the science curriculum normally skips over the epistemology of science and does not elaborate on the difference between syntactic and substantive knowledge. The pivotal role of philosophy of science in science education often remains in shade (Tseitlin & Galili 2006).
This is often the situation in many countries. Kampourakis (2017) pointed to the problem in a wider scope including faculty members in science departments.
A clear complementarity of the two approaches to scientific knowledge—the worldview versus the practical importance—has accompanied science from its dawn (e.g., Matthews 2009). For a striking example, one may compare the intentions of Newton (1686/2016) expressed in his Preface to the Principia with its Marxist analysis by Hessen (1933). This opposition is permanently observed in science education: holistic conceptual understanding versus practical problem-solving; theory-based (“worldview”) versus modeling-based (“practical science”) curricula orientation; nominal versus operational concept definitions and so on.
Bohr chose the claim “opposites are complementary” for his coat of arm. Since the Renaissance, complementarity has become emblematic of science (Galili 2013).
Literal understanding may mislead regarding NOS. “Anything goes” by Feyerabend (1993, p. 241) in his “against method” critique does not mean a lack of any methodology. “How the Laws of Physics Lie” by Cartwright (1983) does not mean that physics laws are untrue. “Science without laws” by Giere (1988) does not presume that one may manage without laws. A close view in each case shows that they should be understood in a specific way. For instance, van Fraassen (1980, pp. 8, 12) defined scientific knowledge as anti-realistic (being empirically verified but not literally true). Scientists often disagree with the label “anti-realist,” and they often agree with constructive materialism when introduced to its claim. The difference between conceptual and material realisms is often not known to science teachers for whom the claim of scientists as being anti-realistic presents an oxymoron.
Einstein’s (1973) saying “do not listen to their words, fix your attention on their deeds” may be helpful but not sufficient. Practitioners are often not familiar with the pertinent conceptual discourse but may quickly be introduced into it being challenged by the claims regarding NOS.
The L-list of NOS features was not hierarchical. Therefore, in order to simplify our treatment, we have made a single change in the original order—the fourth claim regarding the subjective nature of scientific knowledge is addressed here first for its central importance and implications for the rest of the features.
Several authors, while citing the list, corrected this point without even mentioning the inaccuracy of the original claim. They stated subjectivity as being theory-laden. Here, we address both aspects separately as the L-lists deserve. The claim of subjectivity of physics knowledge contradicts the situation in introductory physics around the globe. We never saw such a claim in hundreds of physics textbooks and supporting materials examined.
One may clarify here the difference between objectivity and inter-subjectivity. Some scholars do not grant scientific knowledge more than being intersubjective which literally means being a product of agreement among scholars, community (“conventionalism”). We consider this feature insufficient, since being agreed does not mean, although some might presume so, multiple empirical many-staged verifications on which such agreement draws in science and which present a core requirement of objectivity. The procedure of reaching objectivity must include both aspects—(b) and (c).
Kuhn stated that the adopted theory may preserve some idiosyncratic features. He rejected, however, the claim that he deprived science of objectivity in its “standard application” as opposed to the “matter of taste” which is subjective and undiscussable (ibid. p. 336).
The use of the notion theory in these resources is different from the meaning of theory as a counterpart to practice, experiment, and experience, and is neither a synonym for abstract nor hypothetical. Theory in science may signify an inclusive cluster of coherent knowledge elements organized in hierarchical structure. This use as a structural whole is close to that described by Giere (1985, p. 16; 1999, pp. 97–99) and is common in science and the philosophy of science (e.g., Chalmers 1976, Ch. 7, 8).
Heidegger defined science as a theory of what is actually real (Kockelmans, 1985 p. 162) implying natural science to be a theory of nature.
It is helpful, in this regard, to see the contrast with such areas as religion where to be subjective is presented as a goal of mature knowledge (Kierkegaard 2009).
We address here neither the truth of the theory nor the certainty of scientific knowledge that is distinguished from the objective nature of the scientific knowledge as impersonal and involuntary.
RGB in modern terms
We quote from the article by Shapiro (1984) depicting Newton’s Optical Lectures of 1670–1672.
A very simple example: the claim that the “Sun is rising in the East” is an objective claim. Its correctness, however, depends on the frame of reference, geocentric or heliocentric.
Here, the notions of theory and model are used within the discipline-culture framework (Tseitlin and Galili 2005, Galili 2017). As elaborated below, the notion of theory is often used in physics to represent an inclusive cluster of knowledge elements (e.g., the theory of classical mechanics). Possessing such a structure, theory includes models of different kinds in all areas of its structure. Considered as discipline-culture, the Geocentric Theory of the solar system includes various geocentric models.
Goodman (1968, p. 251) put it as follows: “Indeed, in any science, while the requisite objectivity forbids wishful thinking, prejudicial reading of evidence, rejection of unwanted results, avoidance of ominous lines of inquiry, it does not forbid use of feeling in exploration and discovery, the impetus of inspiration and curiosity, or the cues given by excitement over intriguing problems and promising hypotheses.” Nersessian (1992) termed this stage as the context of development.
In contrast, Duschl and Granny (2013) stated that the two contexts might be interwoven: “What occurs in science is neither predominantly the context of discovery nor the context of justification but the intermediary contexts of theory development and conceptual modification.” However, even their being interwoven does not dismiss the high validity of recognizing the two aspects of knowledge creation as different with respect to the status of objectivity.
Panofsky and Phillips (1955, p. 240) illustrated the process of justification of the special theory of relativity. Five of the rival theories successfully accounted for the zero result of the Michelson-Morley experiment, but only Einstein’s theory could explain all 13 different experiments performed by different researchers. Actually, criticism of the Einstein theory of relativity never stopped.
Hodson (2011, pp. 111–112) quoted Mitroff who already in 1974 depicted science in terms of Particularism, Solitariness, Interestedness, and Non-rationality as better characterizing the reality than the universalism, disinterestedness, and rationality proclaimed by Merton (1973). The argumentation provided by Mitroff, however, addressed the context of inquiry.
Besides concepts, the units used to measure physical quantities do not draw any more on the directly measured kg, m, and sec. They have been elicited through sophisticated theoretical accounts from the world constants h, c, and e considered now as fundamental.
As mentioned already, Heidegger defined science (the whole science!) as a theory of what is actually real (Kockelmans 1985, p. 162) implying natural science to be a theory of nature.
Kuhn (1969) used the terms constellation or disciplinary matrix when he addressed a theory.
This law which states the friction between two surfaces to be proportional to the pressing force between them regardless the areas in contact was introduced by Leonardo but seldom called by his name. Instead, if at all, it may be attributed to Amonton, the French scholar of the seventeenth c. (e.g., Persson 1998, pp. 10–11)
The nature of physics knowledge was addressed by the metaphor of “patchwork” (Cartwright 1994) and the claim of Giere (1988) “Close inspection, I think, reveals that they are neither universal nor necessary – they are not even true” (p. 128). Physics laws do not “lie” as Cartwright wrote (1983), but are valid each in their particular areas of validity (e.g., Heisenberg 1948; Einstein, 1989). The patchwork metaphor is inappropriate: the theory of general relativity is valid in the area of classical mechanics but not vice versa. Newton’s law of gravitation works on the leaning tower in Pisa but not in quasars, while Einstein’s theory of gravitation works in both. Quantum mechanics works in the macro-world but Newtonian mechanics does not work in the micro-world. In short, the scenario of simple division is wrong.
This approach is termed Abbe optical theory (Hecht 1998, pp. 602–604).
This model essentially refines the traditional claim (e.g., Nagel 1961) that a more advanced theory (such special relativity) subsumes, under ceteris paribus reservations, its predecessor (such as classical mechanics), and emphasizing incommensurability of the fundamentals (Kuhn 1970) in parallel with commensurability of the correspondent numerical accounts.
Such elements as the friction, elasticity, non-conservative forces, and Ohm’s laws are formally irreducible to the nuclei axioms. They appear as emergent properties, obtained as empirical laws. They point to the conceptual incompleteness of the particular theory but do not prevent its validity in the certain area of parameters.
We teach theories in class not in the form that these theories were historically introduced. Indeed, Newtonian mechanics did not include energy, Mendeleev’s periodic law did not draw on electronic structure, and Darwin did not justify selection of species by genetic rules (e.g., Dagher and Erduran 2014).
Of course, we are talking here about the cases of well-established theoretical knowledge and not about fundamental research. This fact, however, does not remove the validity of the claim of economy of thought in science: automatic repetitive use of scientific algorithms. Scientists can proceed with their research only because they do not check every product they use in their inquiry. In that, they draw heavily on the authority of the resource they use. The situation changes only in case of failure.
Ironically, the first critique of the “discovery” of the gravitational force instead of its invention as an abstract tool was due to the Irish philosopher Berkeley (e.g., Popper 1962, p.109).
Kuhn (1969, pp. 197–198) discusses the same point when considering the pair of perception-interpretation of something, cemented together by the tacit knowledge of the explorer.
Einstein (1934a) called it “the eternal antithesis of the two inseparable constituents of human knowledge, Experience and Rationale, within the sphere of physics.” This symbiosis is epitomized in representative artistic images to show in science classes as a logo of science, its nature (Appendix 1).
The further complexity of this claim we briefly address in Appendix 2.
A very similar claim was made by another Nobelist, Leon Lederman (1998, p. 132), who stated categorically: “We believe that there is only one science, not Western, not indigenous, not even Maori. Its origins may be traced to the Ionian Greek civilization, and it flowered in Europe in the seventeenth century.”
Here is a contemporary example. A vast body of literature documented the tragic reality of Soviet science during Stalin’s regime and the brutal pressure of the social environment, including physical elimination, torturing, and imprisonment of numerous scientists (Gorelik and Frenkel 1994; Gorelik and Bouis 2005; Ginzburg 2005). In spite of this, the scientists there managed to produce results universally valid regardless of the nightmares they faced, being committed to the universal scientific norms for argumentation and creating objective, socially independent products (Josephson and Sorokin 2017). By contrast, when the subjective social demand penetrated scientific content, as happened in the Lysenko case (Lamarckian paradigm) where Stalin destroyed the opponents, the product was pseudoscience, not science (Birstein 2001). In an interesting parallel with education, the entrance of social, subjective factors may cause pretending social behavior and pseudoconceptual understanding on behalf of students (Vinner 1997).
In Soviet Russia, genetics and cybernetics were considered to be bourgeois pseudoscience or “capitalistic” products. The development of these areas of objective knowledge was thus suppressed in Russia for many years but eventually overcame.
We limit our discussion to science, arguing using scientific theories, but technology is not different in this perspective. Think about the striking difference in all aspects of social environment and ideology between the USA, USSR, China, Pakistan, and Northern Korea. Despite the differences, practically the same scientific and technological products were created—the atomic weapon and rocketry, for instance.
We skip here another important claim of cultural influence on scientific content, for instance, in Marxist perspective. To illustrate, it was claimed that Newton’s Principia was actually the answer to the needs of England in constructing canals and locks, problems of chronometry in navigation, etc. (Hessen 1933, p. 30, 62). In our view, it does not change our argument of social independence of the scientific contents.
We refer to Popper in this regard and not to other philosophers of the past, such as Hume (1739/1978), who expressed a similar criticism to replacing the cause-effect based necessity relationship in human claims with experience based inferences of merely probability. Popper addressed science in a more inclusive and mature way.
In religious Judeo-Christian literature, the knowledge of ultimate truth is labeled gnosis. In similar sense, in Soviet Russia, all students learned gnoseology that apparently replaced epistemology.
It is, however, not a divorce from philosophy but rather a recognition of complex relationship (Russell 1912/1990). Bunge wrote: “What is obvious to the practitioner of a science may be problematic to its philosopher” (Bunge 1973, p. 28). Why, then, not ignore philosophy? Bunge answered, “Ignore all philosophy and you will be the slave of one bad philosophy” (Bunge 1967b, p. 261) and elaborated (Bunge 2000, p. 461), “Physics cannot dispense with philosophy, just as the latter does not advance if it ignores physics and the other sciences. … Science and sound (i.e., scientific) philosophy overlap partially and consequently they can interact fruitfully. Without philosophy, science loses in depth; and without science philosophy stagnates.” The clarification of the difference between episteme and gnosis may illustrate the importance of philosophy for science education and the different context of their activity.
This perspective may resolve the confusion of those who do recognize the progress of science but do not see it approaching the truth about nature (Kuhn 1970, p. 170). The approach of science is not linear but multifaceted in different aspects of truth revealed in greater and deeper extent by several fundamental theories.
As a rule, the Nobel Prize is not provided for a theoretical contribution, unless it was proven empirically: thus, in Medicine of 1945, awarded for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect that saved the lives of millions and proved the theory of immunology; likewise, the Nobel Prize in Physics of 2017, given for the observation of gravitational waves that added another proof of correctness of the Theory of General Relativity.
Physics teachers prove Kepler’s laws, work-energy theorem, Bernoulli equation, Galileo’s claims regarding projectiles and so on and so forth from the endless list of examples of proving in physics class. Physics textbooks are abundant with proofs/demonstrations.
By being proved the textbooks (and so the teachers) normally mean revealing the mechanism by which the considered claim is coherent with certain fundamental physical theory, its principles (nucleus). The proving procedure may include theoretical and/or empirical activities. The textbooks apparently aim to the context of disciplinary education addressing the established rational knowledge (episteme) rather than philosophical debate regarding the absolute truth (gnosis).
For example, Losee 1993, pp. 120–136; Gower 1997; Lakatos 1999, pp. 19–108; Betz 2011. See Appendix 3 for an artistic illustration of the scientific method as emerged in antiquity. Furthermore, the well-defined scientific method does not imply a simple demarcation in any scientific context. Thus, the context of inquiry may violate the strict rules, which, however, emerge later on as unavoidable in the context of justification, considered above.
We consider as important pedagogy the strengthening of the specific features of the scientific approach to knowledge production rather than stating that “the same methods are used by all effective problem-solvers” and that “science is no different from other human endeavors when puzzles are investigated” (McComas 1998). Similarity and adoption of scientific method in other areas of activity should not bring the learner to missing the identity of the scientific method.
See Kuhn (1957) and Lakatos (1998) with regard to astrology, Read (1995) for alchemy, Birstein (2001) for the Lysenko case, Huizenga (1993) for cold fusion, and Roob (2001) for mysticism. Each case was analyzed and contrasted with the scientific methodology. The split from science often followed periods of interwoven activities. Astrology and mysticism went a long way with astronomy. The claim of correspondence and relationship between macro-cosmos (the world) and micro-cosmos (the human organism) considered scientific for centuries.
A special issue we should mention here is the violation of ethics in medical investigations such as Nazi medical experiments which led to the establishment of the Nuremberg code for such experimentation (https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/en).
It is clearly observed in the actively progressing disciplinary areas such as quantum chemistry, physical chemistry, and molecular biology.
It is different from Darwinian evolution (Toulmin 1972, pp. 140–141) and rather corresponds to the perspective of historical materialism elucidated by Popper’s vision of sequential dialectical conjectures and refutations. The reciprocal evolution changes the participants, the researchers, and their knowledge, in the process of conceptual progress. To describe such reciprocal change, Paget introduced the complementary aspects of assimilation and accommodation.
An anecdotal evidence is due to George Feher, Wolf Prize winner for understanding photosynthesis. Answering why he was successful where others failed, Feher said that, as a physicist, he carried out his study with the simplest bacteria instead of investigating the emblematic object performing photosynthesis—a tree leaf, which is a much more complex.
If natural sciences present elective courses in high school curriculum, students often chose one of the science disciplines, sometimes, excluding physics. Such arrangement contradicts the presented perspective on the required complementarity of simple and complex to appreciate NOS.
Duschl and Grandy (2013) mentioned the development of the philosophy of science as possessing three periods focusing on (1) epistemology, (2) scientific knowledge as social phenomenon, and (3) scientific practices—naturalized epistemology. Apparently, all three perspectives are required in constructing the big picture of science.
AAAS. (1993). American Association for the Advancement of Science. Benchmarks for science literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.
Abd-El-Khalick, F. (2012). Examining the sources for our understandings about science: enduring conflations and critical issues in research on nature of science in science education. International Journal of Science Education, 34(3), 353–374.
Agazzi, E. (2014). Scientific objectivity and its contexts (pp. 54–55). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
Al-Khalili, J. (2010). Pathfinders. The golden age of Arabic science. New York: Penguin Books.
Berry, A. (1961). A short history of astronomy. New York: Dover.
Berry, A., Friedrichsen, P., & Loughran, J. (Eds.). (2015). Re-examining pedagogical content knowledge in science education. New York: Routledge.
Betz, F. (2011). Origin of scientific method. In Managing science, innovation, technology, and knowledge management 9, 21. Springer.
Birstein, V. (2001). The pervasion of knowledge. The true story of Soviet science. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press.
Bohr, N. (1949). Discussion with Einstein on epistemological problems in atomic physics. In P. A. Schilpp (Ed.), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist (pp. 199–241). New York: Harper Torchbooks.
Bunge, M. (1967a). Quantum theory and reality. Berlin, Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
Bunge, M. (1967b). Foundation of physics. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
Bunge, M. (1973). Philosophy of physics. Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel Publishing Company.
Bunge, M. (2000). Energy: between physics and metaphysics. Science & Education, 9(5), 457–461.
Carnap, R. (1971). Philosophical foundations of physics. an introduction to the philosophy of science. New York: Basic Books.
Cartwright, N. (1983). How the laws of physics lie. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Cartwright, N. (1994). Fundamentalism vs the patchwork of laws. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 93(2), 279–292.
Chalmers, A. F. (1976). What is this thing called Science? Milton Keynes, England: The Open University Press.
Clough, M. P. (2007). Teaching the nature of science to secondary and post-secondary students: questions rather than tenets, The Pantaneto Forum, Issue 25, http://pantaneto.co.uk/issue-25/, January.
Clough, M. P. & Olson, J. K. (2004). The nature of science: always part of the science story. The science teacher, 71(9), 28-31. Reprinted in Koulaidis, V., Apostolou, A. & Kampourakis, K. (Eds.) (2008). The nature of sciences: Didactical approaches (pp. 287-296).
Clough, M. P., Berg, C. A., & Olson, J. K. (2009). Promoting effective science teacher education and science teaching: a framework for teacher decision-making. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 7(4), 821–847.
Couvalis, G. (1997). The philosophy of science. Science and objectivity. London: Sage Publications.
Cushing, J. (1994). Quantum mechanics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Dagher, Z., & Erduran, S. (2014). Laws in biology and chemistry: Philosophical perspectives and educational implications. In M. Matthews (Ed.), International handbook of history, philosophy and science teaching (pp. 1203–1233). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
Darrigol, O. (2000). Electrodynamics from Ampere to Einstein. New York: Oxford University Press.
Di Francia, G. T. (1976). The investigation of the physical world. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Dirac, P. A. M. (1958). The principles of quantum mechanics. Oxford: Calendon Press.
Dreyer, J. L. E. (1953). A history of astronomy from Thales to Kepler. New York: Dover.
Duhem, P. (1982). The aim and structure of physical theory. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Duschl, R. A., & Grandy, R. (2013). Two views about explicitly teaching nature of science. Science & Education, 22(9), 2109–2139.
Einstein, A. (1918/2002). Principles of research. The collected papers of Albert Einstein: The Berlin years, 1918-1921 (pp. 42–45). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University press.
Einstein, A. (1934a). On the method of theoretical physics. Philosophy of Science, 1(2), 163–169.
Einstein, A. (1934b). Address at Columbia University, New York, January 15. In In Albert Einstein, Essays in science. New York: Open Road Integrated Media.
Einstein, A. (1949/1979). Autobiographical notes. In P. A. Schilpp (Ed.), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-scientist. New York: Harper.
Einstein, A. (1952/1987). Letters to Solovine: 1906–1955 (May 7, 1952). NY: Open Road, Integrated Media.
Einstein, A., & Infeld, L. (1938). Evolution of physics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Erduran, S., & Dagher, Z. R. (2014). Reconceptualizing the nature of science for science education. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
Feyerabend, P. (1993). Against method. London: Verso.
Feyerabend, P. (1999). Knowledge, science and relativism philosophical papers volume 3. Cambridge University Press.
Feynman, R. (1985/2014). QED. The strange theory of light and matter. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
van Fraassen, B. C. (1980). The scientific image. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
French, A. (1968). Special relativity. MIT physics series. New York: Norton.
Galilei, G. (1638/1914). Dialogue concerning two new sciences [Discorsi]. New York: Dover.
Galili, I. (2012). Promotion of content cultural knowledge through the use of the history and philosophy of science. Science & Education, 21(9), 1283–1316.
Galili, I. (2013). On the power of fine arts pictorial imagery in science education in science education. Science & Education, 22(8), 1911–1938.
Galili, I. (2014). Teaching optics: A historico-philosophical perspective. In M. R. Matthews (Ed.), International handbook of research in history and philosophy for science and mathematics education, pp. 97-128, Springer.
Galili, I. (2017). Scientific knowledge as a culture – A paradigm of knowledge representation for meaningful teaching and learning science. In M. R. Matthews (Ed.), History (Philosophy and Science Teaching Research. New Perspectives. Ch) (Vol. 8, pp. 203–233). Dordrecht: Springer.
Galili, I. (2018). Physics and mathematics as interwoven disciplines in physics class. Science & Education, 27(1–2), 7–37.
Galili, I., & Hazan, A. (2000). The influence of a historically oriented course on students’ content knowledge in optics evaluated by means of facets - schemes analysis. American Journal of Physics, 68(7), S3–S15.
Galili, I., & Hazan, A. (2001). The effect of a history-based course in optics on students views about science. Science & Education, 10(1–2), 7–32.
Giere, R. N. (1985). Philosophy of science naturalized. Philosophy of Science, 52, 331–356.
Giere, R. N. (1988). Explaining science: A cognitive approach. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Giere, R. N. (1995). The sceptical perspective: science without laws of nature. In F. Weinert (Ed.), Laws of nature: Essays on the philosophical, scientific and historical dimensions (pp. 120–138). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Ginzburg, V. L. (2005). About science, myself and others. Bristol: Institute of Physics Publishing.
Glasersfeld, E. (1995). Radical constructivism: A way of knowing and learning. London: The Falmer Press.
Glashow, S. L. (1994). From alchemy to quarks. Physics as liberal art. Pasific Grove California: Brooks.
Godfrey-Smith, P. (2003). An introduction to the philosophy of science. Theory and reality. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Goodman, N. (1968). Languages of art. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. Quoted in Scheffler. I. (2009). Worlds of truth. A philosophy of knowledge, p. 130. Wiley-Blackwell.
Gorelik, G. (2012). How the modern physics was invented in the 17th century, part 1: the Needham question. Scientific American, April 6, 2012; (2108) Hessen’s explanation and the Needham question, or how Marxism helped to put an important question but hindered answering it. Epistemology and Philosophy of Science, 55(3), 153–171.
Gorelik, G., & Bouis, A. W. (2005). The world of Andrei Sakharov. A Russian physicist’s path to freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gorelik, G., & Frenkel, V. Y. (1994). Matvei Petrovich Bronstein and Soviet theoretical physics in the thirties. Basel: Birkhauser Verlag.
Goren, E., & Galili, I. (2018). A summary lecture as a delay organizer of students’ knowledge of mechanics – a discipline-culture approach (Proceedings of the 11 th conference of the European Science education research association (ESERA)). Ireland: Dublin.
Gorham, G., Hill, B., Slowik, E., & Waters, C. K. (Eds.). (2016). The language of nature. Reassessing the mathematization of natural philosophy in the seventeenth century. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Gower, B. (1997). Scientific method. An historical and philosophical introduction. London: Routledge.
Guisasola, J., Almudí, J. M., & Furió, C. (2005). The nature of science and its implications for physics textbooks. The case of classical magnetic field theory. Science & Education, 14(3–5), 321–328.
Gunstone, R. (2015). Encyclopedia of science education. Dordrecht: Springer.
Hecht, E. (1998). Optics. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Heisenberg, W. (1948). Der Begriff Abgeschlossene Theorie in Der Modernen Naturwissenschaft. Dialectica, 2(3-4), 331–336 Quoted in Popper (1962, p. 113).
Heisenberg, W. (1958). Physics and philosophy. The revolution in modern science. New York: Harper.
Heisenberg, W. (1965). Quantum mechanics and objectivity. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
Hempel, C. G. (1966). Philosophy of natural science. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Hempel, C. G. (1983). Validation and objectivity in Science. In R. S. Cohen & L. Laudan (Eds.), Physics, philosophy and psychoanalysis essays in honor of Adolf Grilnbaum (pp. 73–100). Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel Publishing Company.
Hessen, B. M. (1933). Socio-economical roots of Newton’s mechanics. Moscow: GTTI.
Hodson, D. (2011). Looking to the future. Building a curriculum for social activism. Rotterdam, the Netherlands: Sense publishers.
Hodson, D. & Wong, S. L. (2017). Going beyond the consensus view: broadening and enriching the scope of NOS-oriented curricula, Canadian journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 17(1), 3–17.
Holton, G. (1985). Introduction to concepts and theories in physical science. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Hoskin, M. (1997). The Cambridge illustrated history of astronomy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Huizenga, J. R. (1993). Cold fusion: The scientific fiasco of the century. University of Rochester Press.
Hume, D. (1739/1978). A treatise of human nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Huygens, C. (1690/1912). Treatise on light. London: Macmillan.
Josephson, P., & Sorokin, A. (2017). Physics moves to the provinces: the Siberian physics community and soviet power, 1917-1940. British Journal for the History of Science, 50(2), 297–327.
Kampourakis, K. (2016). The “general aspects” conceptualization as a pragmatic and effective means to introducing students to nature of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 53(5), 667–682.
Kampourakis, K. (2017). History and philosophy of science courses for science students. Science & Education, 26, 611–612.
Kepler, J. (1621/1972). Epitome of Copernican astronomy. In great books of the Western world (Vol. 15, p. 845). Chicago: Britannica.
Khan Academy (2017). Scientific Method. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6IAzlugWw0, retrieved December 3, 2017.
Kierkegaard, S. (2009). Concluding unscientific postscript to the philosophical crumbs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kockelmans. (1985). Heidegger and Science. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Kuhn, T. (1957). The Copernican revolution. Planetary astronomy in the development of western thought. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Kuhn, T. (1969). Postscript 1069. In Kuhn, T. (1970). The structure of the scientific revolution. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Kuhn, T. (1970). The structure of the scientific revolution. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Kuhn, T. S. (1977). Objectivity, value judgement, and theory choice. In T. S. Kuhn (Ed.), Essential tension (selected studies in scientific tradition and change) (pp. 320–339). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Kuhn, T. S. (2000). The road to science structure. Chicago: The University of Chicago.
Lakatos, I. (1980). Falsification and the methodology of scientific research programmes. In J. Worrall & G. Currie (Eds.), Imre Lakatos philosophical papers: Vol. 1. The methodology of scientific research programs (pp. 8–101). Cambridge: Cambridge University press.
Lakatos, I. (1998). Science and pseudoscience. In M. Curd & J. A. Cover (Eds.), Philosophy of science. Central Issues (pp. 20–26). New York: Norton.
Lakatos, I. (1999). Lectures on scientific method. In Lakatos, I. & Feyerabend, P. (Auth.) For and against method. Chicago: The University of Chicago press.
Latour, B. (1987). Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Laudan, L. (1977). Progress and its problems. Berkley, LA: University of California Press.
Lederman, L. (1998). A response. Studies in Science Education, 31(1), 130–135.
Lederman, N. G. (2006). Syntax of nature of science within inquiry and science instruction. In L. B. Flick & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Scientific inquiry and nature of science. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp ix-xviii.
Lederman, N. G. (2007). Nature of science: Past, present, and future. In S. K. Abell & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (pp. 831–879). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Lederman, N. G., Wade, P. D., & Bell, R. L. (1998). Assessing understanding of the nature of science: A historical perspective. In W. McComas (Ed.), The nature of science in science education: Rationales and strategies (pp. 331–350). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Lederman, N. G., Abd-El-Khalick, F., Bell, R. L., & Schwartz, R. S. (2002). Views of nature of science questionnaire: toward valid and meaningful assessment of learners’ conceptions of nature of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39(6), 497–521.
Lederman, N. G., Bartos, S. A., & Lederman, J. S. (2014). The development, use, and interpretation of nature of science assessments. In M. R. Matthews (Ed.), International handbook of research in history, philosophy and science teaching (pp. 974–978). Dordrecht: Springer.
Lederman, N. G., Abd-El-Khalick, F., & Schwartz, R. (2015). Measurement of NOS. In R. Gunstone (Ed.), Encyclopedia of science education (pp. 704–708). Dordrecht: Springer.
Levrini, O., Bertozzi, E., Gagliardi, M., Grimellini-Tomasini, N., Pecori, B., Tasquier, G., & Galili, I. (2014). Meeting the discipline-culture framework of physics knowledge: an experiment in Italian secondary school. Science & Education, 23(9), 1701–1731.
Lévy-Leblond, J.-M. (2001). On the nature of Quantons. Science & Education, 12(5), 495–502.
Lindberg, D. (2007). The beginning of western science. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Longino, H. (1990). Science as a social knowledge. values and objectivity in science inquiry. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Losee, J. (1993). A historical introduction to the philosophy of science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mach, E. (1883/1989). The science of mechanics. La Salle, IL: Open Court.
Mach, E. (1976). Knowledge and error. Sketches on the psychology of enquiry. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel.
Marton, F., & Pang, M. F. (2006). On some necessary conditions of learning. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(2), 193–220.
Marton, F., & Pang, M. F. (2013). Meanings are acquired from experiencing differences against a background of sameness, rather than from experiencing sameness against a background of difference: Putting a conjecture to test by embedding it into a pedagogical tool. Frontline Learning Research, 1(1), 24–41.
Matthews, M. R. (1994/2015). Science teaching. The contribution of history and philosophy of science. New York: Routledge.
Matthews, M. R. (2009). Teaching the philosophical and worldview components of science in science. Science & Education, 18, 697–728.
Matthews, M. R. (2012). Changing the focus: From nature of science (NOS) to features of science (FOS). Chapter 1. In M. S. Khine (Ed.), Advances in nature of science research: Concepts and methodologies (pp. 3–26). Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer.
McComas, W. F. (1998). The principal elements of the nature of Science: Dispelling the myths. In W. F. McComas (Ed.), The nature of science in science education: Rationales and strategies (pp. 53–70). Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Merton, R. K. (1973). The sociology of science: Theoretical and empirical investigations. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Miller, A. I. (1981). Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Miller, A. I. (1984). Imagery in scientific thought: creating 20th-century physics. Boston, MA: Birkhauser.
Miller, A. I. (Ed.). (1986). Frontiers of physics: 1900–1911. selected essays. Boston, MA: Birkhauser.
Nagel, E. (1961). The structure of science. New York: Harcocoart, Brace and World.
Needham, J. (2004). Science and civilization in China (Vol. 7, part 2). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Nersessian, N. (1992). How do scientists think? Capturing the dynamics of conceptual change in Science. In R. Giere (Ed.), Cognitive models of Science. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Neugebauer, O. (1993). The exact sciences in antiquity. New York: Barrens & Noble.
Newton, I. (1670). Optical Lectures. In A. Shapiro (1984). Newton’s optical lectures. Cambridge University Press.
Newton, I. (1686/2016). Newton’s preface to the first edition. In the Principia (pp. 27-29). Oakland, California: University of California Press.
Niaz, M. (2009). Critical appraisal of physical science as a human enterprise: Dynamics of scientific progress. Milton Keynes: Springer.
Nozick, R. (2000). The objectivity and the rationality of science. In J. H. Fetzer (Ed.), Science, explanation, and rationality: Aspects of the philosophy of Carl G. Hempel (pp. 287–308). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
NRC. (1996). National Research Council. National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
NSTA (2000) National Science Teachers Association. Position statement: The nature of science. www.nsta.org/about/positions/natureofscience.aspx.
Osborne, J. (2017) Going beyond the consensus view: a response, Canadian journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 17(1), 53–57.
Osborne, J., Collins, S., Radcliffe, M., Millar, R., & Duschl, R. (2003). What “ideas-about-science” should be taught in school science? A Delphi study of the expert community. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(7), 692–720.
Panofsky, W. K. H., & Phillips, M. (1955). Classical electricity and magnetism. Reading: Massachusetts, Addison-Wesley.
Pedersen, O., & Pihl, M. (1974). Early physics and astronomy. London: McDonald & Janes.
Persson, B. J. (1998). Sliding friction. Physical principles and applications. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
Plato. (2003). The Republic. Cambridge University Press.
Popper, K. R. (1959). The logic of scientific discovery. London: Hutchinson.
Popper, K. R. (1962). Theories as instruments. In Conjectures and refutations. The growth of scientific knowledge. New York: Basic Books.
Popper, K. R. (1967). Quantum mechanics without “the observer”. In M. Bunge (Ed.), Quantum theory and reality (pp. 7–44). Berlin, Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
Popper, K. R. (1970). A realist view of logic, physics, and history. In W. Yourgrau & A. D. Breck (Eds.), Physics, logic, and history. New York: Plenum.
Popper, K. R. (1975). Objective knowledge. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Rabinowitz, M. (2017). Examination of wave-particle duality via two-slit interference. https://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0302062 retrieved 14.12.2017.
Read, J. (1995). From alchemy to chemistry. New York: Dover.
Reichenbach, H. (1938). Experience and prediction: An analysis of the foundations and the structure of knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Reiss, J. (2014). Scientific objectivity. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-objectivity/. Retrieved on August 16, 2017.
Roob, A. (2001). Alchemy & Mysticism. New York: Taschen.
Russell, B. (1912/1990). The problems of philosophy. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co..
Russell, B. (2009). Dewey’s new logic. In R. E. Egner & L. E. Denonn (Eds.), The basic writings of Bertrand Russell. London: Routledge.
Russo, L. (2004). The forgotten revolution: how science was born in 300 B.C. and why it had to be reborn. Berlin: Springer.
Schwab, J. J. (1978). Education and the structure of the disciplines. In J. J. Schwab (Ed.), Science, curriculum and liberal education. Chicago: The University of Chicago press.
Science. (1999). Primary School Curriculum. Dublin: Government Publications Sale Office 2 http://www.ncca.ie/uploadedfiles/Curriculum/Science_Gline.pdf Retrieved on September 8, 2018.
Serway, R. A., Moses, C. J., & Moyer, C. A. (2005). Modern physics. Belmont, CA: Thomson, Brooks/Cole.
Shapin, S. (1996). The scientific revolution. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Shapiro, A. E. (1984). Experiment and mathematics in Newton’s theory of color. Physics Today, 37(9), 34–42.
Shapiro, A. E. (2004). Newton’s experimental philosophy. Newtonianism: Mathematical and experimental. Early Science and Medicine, 9(3), 185–217.
Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15, 4–14.
Sivin, N. (2005). Why the scientific revolution did not take place in China —or didn’t it? http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~nsivin/scirev.pdf
Slezak, P. (1994). Sociology of scientific knowledge and scientific education. Science & Education, 3, 265–294.
Sokal, A., & Bricmont, J. (1998). Fashionable nonsense. Postmodern intellectuals’ abuse of science. New York: Picador.
Taylor, L. W. (1941). Physics. New York: Dover.
Thornton, S. (2016). Karl Popper. In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/. Retrieved on August 18, 2017.
Tipler, P. A. (1987). Modern physics. New York: Wort Publishers.
Toulmin, S. (1972). Human understanding. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Tseitlin, M., & Galili, I. (2005). Teaching physics in looking for its self: from a physics-discipline to a physics-culture. Science & Education, 14(3–5), 235–261.
Tseitlin, M., & Galili, I. (2006). Science teaching: What does it mean? - A simple semiotic perspective. Science & Education, 15(5), 393–417.
Vinner, S. (1997). The pseudo-conceptual and the pseudo-analytical thought processes in mathematics learning. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 34(2), 97–129.
Vygotsky, L. (1934/1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press.
Wallace, J. (2017) Teaching NOS in an age of plurality, Canadian journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 17:1, 1–2.
Weinberg, J. R. (1936). An examination of logical positivism. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co..
Weinberg, S. (1974). Reflections of a working scientist. Daedalus, 103, 3.
Weinberg, S. (2001). Facing up. Science and its cultural adversaries. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Weinberg, S. (2015). To explain the world: The discovery of modern Science. New York: Harper Collins Publishes.
Weizsäcker, C. F. (2006). The structure of physics. Springer.
Wilczek, F. (2004). Whence the force of F = ma? Physics Today, 57(12), 10.
Wong, S. L., & Hodson, D. (2009). From the horse’s mouth: what scientists say about scientific investigation and scientific knowledge. Science Education, 93(1), 109–130.
Wong, S. L., & Hodson, D. (2010). More from the horse’s mouth: what scientists say about science as a social practice. International Journal of Science Education, 32(11), 1431–1463.
Conflict of Interest
The author declares no conflict of interest.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Images may effectively facilitate science teaching and presentation to wide audience. Art provides appealing images of the symbiotic relationship of Reason and Experience as the essential feature of knowledge and method in science (Galili 2013). Such is Rafael’s renowned collective portrait of The School of Athens (1501). The fresco in the Vatican has as its focus two figures of the founders of natural philosophy, Plato and Aristotle, who present through their gestures Reason (Rationality) and Experience (Empiricism) symbolizing their symbiosis in science (Fig. 7a).
Another image of Far East art is on display in the National Museum of Seoul. It employs similar symbolism of the idea of cosmic complementarity in a no less appealing way (Fig. 7b). The two components are represented by the interwoven figures symbolizing the Earthly and Heavenly origins, rationality and experience. The right-angle tool symbolizes the Earth, considered to be of rectangular shape by Eastern scholars in the past. The compasses represent rationality since the Heavens were considered to be of a round shape. The Korean image is even stronger, showing the intertwined basis of the two figures possibly referring to the emergence in process.
The essential independence of social environment does not dismiss the question why, despite the international nature of scientific enterprise at the present time, it was invented in Greece and nowhere else; why modern science was developed in Europe two thousand years later, not in other places. Why the long intellectual tradition of interest in nature in China and India did not achieve a similar outcome? This question is known as the Needham Question (Needham 2004; Sivin 2005; Gorelik 2012; Goren and Galili 2018). As a possible answer, we may mention that human history, being one whole comprised of interacting components, prevents isolated paths of development which could need more time for otherwise independent growth. It is enough for one trend to develop faster than another, for any reason, that its products would influence scholars in other societies preventing their original inventions and thus dragging them to adopt the trend of others with respect to consolidation of specific scientific knowledge. Adoption, repeating and copying methods and discoveries through learning from others, are much easier way than developing original conceptual construction. This reality can undermine cultural originality and can cause a collective universal mode of scientific knowledge development by humankind.
About this article
Cite this article
Galili, I. Towards a Refined Depiction of Nature of Science. Sci & Educ 28, 503–537 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11191-019-00042-4
- Nature of science
- Context of science education
- Conceptual variation
- Science epistemology and method