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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 56, Issue 3, 2019

Alexander L. Nikiforov
Pages 20-29
DOI: 10.5840/eps201956342

The Transformation of Science in the XX Century
from the Search of Truth to the Enhancement of Technology

The first part of the article examines the views on the nature of science and the activities of the scientists, on a role of science in the life of society, expressed in the works of the greatest scientists of the late-early 20th centuries – E. Mach, A. Poincare and M. Weber. It is shown that certain differences in the understanding of science and its development between these thinkers were due to their professional orientation. While Mach and Poincare, speaking of science, had in mind, above all, a mathematized natural science, Weber focused on the social sciences, which were only at the beginning of their development. The second part of the article shows that during the twentieth century science experienced a significant transformation, which was due to three interrelated factors. First, research has become widely funded by business and government. Secondly, large scientific teams come to take the place of single scientists, whose members perform only narrow-specific functions in solving a scientific task. Finally, business and the state orient science toward solving applied problems, i.e. to develop new technical devices. As a result, the main goal of scientific activity is not the search for truth, but the improvement of technology, new knowledge is only a by-product of technical progress.

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