The Nature of Science

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What is the NOS?  The scientific community, including its philosophers, educators and historians has not agreed on a single definition of the nature of science (Lederman & Niess, 1997).  However, the NOS as a concept is accepted as the values and assumptions inherent in the development and interpretation of scientific knowledge (Lederman, 1992).  Peter Machamer (1992), in his article on The Philosophy of Science: An Overview for Educators, describes science as “a method of inquiry about the things and structures in the world.  Conceived as a social human activity, science is an important institution or practice constitutive of the modern world.”  

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the premier science society in the United States, has defined NOS as, “Over the course of human history, people have developed many interconnected and validated ideas about the physical, biological, psychological, and social worlds. It is the union of science, mathematics, and technology. Those ideas have enabled successive generations to achieve an increasingly comprehensive and reliable understanding of the human species and its environment. The means used to develop these ideas are particular ways of observing, thinking, experimenting, and validating. These ways represent a fundamental aspect of the nature of science and reflect how science tends to differ from other modes of knowing.”  (Rutherford and Ahlgren, 1990)  It is this combined nature and its impact and implications to the world that makes it so successful.  AAAS (1993) identified thee principle parts of the NOS as: I) Science World View, II) Science Inquiry and III) Science Enterprise.

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