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Scientists’ ontological and epistemological views about science from the perspective of critical realism

journal contribution
posted on 2018-08-01, 00:00 authored by Robyn YucelRobyn Yucel
© 2018, Springer Nature B.V. Including the perspectives of scientists about the nature and process of science is important for an authentic and nuanced portrayal of science in science education. The small number of studies that have explored scientists’ worldviews about science has thus far generated contradictory findings, with recent studies claiming that scientists simultaneously hold contradictory sophisticated and naïve views. This article reports on an exploratory study that uses the framework of Bhaskar’s critical realism to elicit and separately analyse academic scientists’ ontological and epistemological views about science in semi-structured interviews. When the views of scientists are analysed through the lens of critical realism, it is clear that it is possible to hold a realist ontological commitment about what knowledge is of, simultaneously with a fallibilist epistemological commitment about knowledge itself. The apparent incongruence of scientists’ so-called naïve and sophisticated views about science is resolved when analysed using a critical realist framework. Critical realism offers a simple and coherent framework for science educators that avoids many of the problems of positivism and social constructivism by finding a middle ground between them. The three pillars of critical realism: ontological realism, epistemological fallibilism and judgmental rationality help to make sense of how socially constructed scientific knowledge can be anchored in an independent reality.

History

Journal

Science and education

Volume

27

Issue

5-6

Pagination

407 - 433

Publisher

Springer

Location

New York, N.Y.

ISSN

0926-7220

eISSN

1573-1901

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, Springer Nature B.V.

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