SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY
What are Science, Technology and society, and why should people want to study
and learn it? Why should students, teachers, researchers and other professionals have
interest in the subject? Primarily, we need some background and understanding of the
significance of science and technology in the living past and their importance in the
modern world (Mosteiro,2004)
DEFINITIONS OF SCIENCE
- SCIENCE IS A PROCESS
a. Concerned with discovering relationships between observable
phenomena in terms of theories.
b. Systematized theoretical inquiries
c. It seeks for truth about nature.
d. It is determined by observation, hypothesis, measurement, analysis and
e. It is the description and explanation of the development of knowledge
f. It is the study of the beginning and end of everything that exist.
g. Conceptualization of new ideas, from the abstract to the particular.
h. Kind of human cultural activity.
- SCIENCE IS A PRODUCT
a. Systematized, organized body of knowledge based on facts or truths
b. A set of logical and empirical methods which provide for the
systematic observation of empirical phenomena.
c. Source of cognitive authority.
d. Concerned with verifiable concepts
e. A product of the mind
f. It is the variety of knowledge, people, skills, organizations, facilities,
techniques, physical resources, methods and technologies that taken
together and in relation with one another.
The Nature of Science
Prof. Pacifico U. Payawal
“Science is the interpretation of nature and man is the interpreter.”(G. Gore 1878)1
“Nature, with all her irregularities, might have been just as real even if there were no men
to observe and to study her. But there could have been no science without human beings,
or beings like them. It is the spirit of man brooding over the stream of natural events that
has given birth to science.” (A Wolf 1925).2
“Science is the attempts to make the chaotic diversity of our sense experience correspond
to a logically uniform system of thought.” (A. Einstein 1940)3
What is Science? According to the definitions given by gore, Wolf, and Einstein, the
subject matter of science is nature. Every physical entity in the extra terrestrial and
terrestrial environment is a component of nature. The galaxies, the stars in the galaxy, the
planets and their moons, the asteroids and the comets, the air, water, and soil; the plants
and the animals, they are physical entities of Mother Nature. We are conscious of
nature’s reality because of the stimuli emanating from these entities which our sense
Nature is very complex. The multitudes of entities comprising nature, and their complex
interactions, make nature innately complex. Therefore, the totality of stimuli emanating
from her is intuitively chaotic. Science represents the attempt of man to put order to this
chaotic perception of nature. Thus, Albert Einstein 3
defined science as “Man’s attempts
to make the chaotic diversity of his sense experience correspond to a logically uniform
system of thought.” And indeed, as G. Gore1 wrote,” Science is the interpretation of
nature and man is the interpreter.” And as A. Wolf2 opined,
” It is the spirit of man
brooding over the stream of natural events that has given birth to science,” Clearly,
science is the product of human curiosity.
Why are we curious? It is almost an instinct for us humans to try to understand what our
senses perceived because of our highly developed mental skills. These are the mental
skills to observe, infer, measure, classify, experiment, and to communicate. Through the
ages, our ancestors learned to use these skills in a methodical manner to investigate the
‘how,’ the ‘why,’ and the ‘when’ of natural events. This methodical manner to our mental
skills to satisfy human curiosity is the scientific method.
Using the scientific method, generation after generation pf scientist gradually discovered
the natural laws that govern natural processes. As each generation described with an ever
increasing accuracy the events and circumstances that prevail in nature, what was once
perceived as chaotic becomes rational, and man saw the unity in the diversity of nature.
In other word, the scientific endeavors spanning several generations yielded a number of
natural laws. These laws reduce natural events in nature to orderly predictable events.
What sets the limitation of science? Science is a product of the human senses and the
human mind and that is why there could be no science in the absence of an intelligent
being like a human or any other intelligent creature like him. And therein lies the
limitation of science; the limitation of the human senses and the limitation of the human
mind. We can not investigate what our senses cannot perceive, and we can not explain
beyond what our human mind can understand. As a matter of fact, the optical and the
electron microscope, the optical and radio telescopes, and all the other new scientific
instruments are but the result of our attempts to extend our sense of perception.
How does science operate? Science is a self correcting and self-generating human
activity. Using the scientific method, each generation of scientist develop explanations of
natural phenomena but at the same time, within the same generation, there are scientists
who question the validity of the proposed explanations. And within the same generation,
there are scientists who arrive at some new observations which lead to the identification
of new and heretofore undescribed phenomena. In this manner science is self-correcting
and self-generating, it is never stagnant.
How does the Scientific Method operate? The scientific method is a mental process
which serves as the “tool” of scientist with which new discoveries are made Although the
scientific method is traditionally characterized as a rigid mental process consisting of (a)
observation, (b) problem identification, (c) hypothesis formulation, and (d) drawing of
conclusions as to the possible validity if the prediction, scientists are not in general
agreement as to exactly what constitutes scientific procedure.
In reality, this rigid process called the scientific method did prove useful in some
particular instances, like in biology where the problem is amenable to experimental
manipulation. But in some other cases, the problem may not be amenable to controlled
manipulation, like in the geological process of volcanic eruption and mountain building.
Under such unmanageable events, the traditional scientific procedure is unrealistic.
What seems to be common to all scientific investigations is that scientific procedure
involves postulating and testing hypothesis. The testing part may or may not strictly
involve experimentation but accurate observations. In other words, not all scientists
necessarily conduct experiments to prove hypotheses.
In the development and proving of hypotheses, scientists use inductive and deductive
logic, but they do not tend to think exclusively in one way or the other at different times.
In practice, they use the interplay of inductive and deductive logic. Inductive logic
proceeds from the specifies and arrives at a generalization. On the contrary, deductive
proceeds from the general to the specific. To be sure, the following examples are in order.
Inductive logic involves arriving at a probable conclusion based on several samplings.
Suppose that a person tasted a green mango and found it sour and slightly tangy to the
taste buds. Then he subsequently tasted 24 other mangoes and found the same result.
Based on the these 25 samplings, he may then conclude that all green mangoes are sour
and tangy to the taste. Inductive logic thus proceeds from several specific observations to
a generalization. Most of the major theories are arrived at I this manner. For example, the
Cell Theory, the Theory of Biological Evolution by Natural Selection, and the theory of
plate tectonics, all these are generalizations arrived at by inductive reasoning.
Deductive logic proceeds from a generalization to specifics. For example, after testing 25
green mangoes and finding them sour and tangy, one may hypothesize that the next
mango he will taste will be sour and tangy. This kind of reasoning is used to formulate a
new hypothesis after a generalization. For example, the generalization that all green
mangoes are sour and tangy was arrived at after 25 green mangoes. From this
generalization, the scientists may further formulate a new hypothesis using deductive
logic. If 25 green mangoes are sour and tangy, then the next green mango I will taste
should be sour and tangy. If indeed the mango tasted sour and tangy, then the validity of
the original generalization has gained greater probability (or credibility). Thus, the
scientific procedure; or science progress by the interplay of inductive and deductive
It should be pointed out however that inductive generalization never attain absolute
certainty. They only attain higher degrees of probability. For example, the probability
that all green mangoes are sour and tangy based on 25 samples has a lower degree of
certainty than if the sample size is increased to 20 mangoes. But even if the sample size is
increased tom 1000 green mangoes, still there is no absolute certainty that all green
mangoes are sour and tangy. The number of green mangoes is infinite and no one can be
absolutely certain the next green mango to be tasted will not be sweet. Thus science can
only seek for the most probable truth and never for the absolute truth. A.W. Ghent
developed a conceptual scheme to illustrate the role of inductive and deductive logic in
the conduct of scientific investigation.
The scheme shows that scientific procedure begins with an educated guesswork about the
probable explanation to a perceived problem. The guesswork is an educated guess based
on previously known facts related to the problem. The scientists then make a prediction
based on the guesswork; this is the hypothesis. Thus, hypothesis formulation involves
deductive reasoning and goes this way,’ If(an assumption is made based on the
guesswork), then (the prediction that is expected if the assumption is valid). The
prediction is actually the anticipated event to happen if the assumption is correct.
Experiments or factual observations are then made to prove the validity of the hypothesis.
Usually, the result of the experiment/observations may overlap only slightly with those
predicted by the hypothesis. Nevertheless, the result allows the investigator to arrive
inductively at new and more realistic concept (guesswork) about the explanation as the
From the improved guesswork, a new and more realistic hypothesis is made by deductive
logic. Experimentation/observations are then made to test the new hypothesis which
normally results in a much improved guesswork. Thus, the interplay of deductive and
inductive reasoning contributes to increasingly realistic concept of explanation to a
problem. I other words, the interplay yields increasingly reliable factual knowledge less
and less of guesswork.
Is technology a part of science? The little we understood about nature we were able to
use to develop technologies that enabled us to survive and progress; and to be the most
dominant animal species on earth. But technology is not science. Science only seeks to
understand nature, no more no less; technology is but the application of what science has
discovered, for better for worst. That is why usefulness is not a prerequisite to the
generation of knowledge; on the contrary, usefulness is the primary prerequisite to the
generation of technology.
DEFINITIONS OF TECHNOLOGY
On the same view, technology is defined as both a PROCESS and a PRODUCT
- TECHNOLOGY AS A PROCESS
a. It is the application of science.
b. The practice, description, and terminology of applied sciences.
c. The intelligent organization and manipulation of materials for useful
d. The means employed to provide for human needs and wants.
e. Focused on inventing new or better tools and materials or new and
better ways of doing things.
f. A way of using findings of science to produce new things for a better
way of living.
g. Search for concrete solutions that work and give wanted results.
h. It is characteristically calculative and imitative, tends to be
i. Form of human cultural activity.
- TECHNOLOGY AS A PRODUCT
a. A system of know-how, skills, techniques and processes.
b. It is like a language, rituals, values, commerce and arts, it is an
intrinsic part of a cultural system and it both shapes and reflects the
c. It is the product of the scientific concept.
d. The complex combination of knowledge, materials and methods.
e. Material products of human making or fabrication.
f. Total societal enterprise.
DEFINITIONS OF SCEINCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- A field of endeavor upon which a two-way interaction operates between
science and technology.
- Interdependent and overlapping methods which employ both existing
knowledge and existing know-how.
- A system of know-how, skills, techniques and processes which enable society
to produce, distribute, install, maintain or improve goods and services needed
to satisfy human needs.
- Is an interdisciplinary field of study that seeks to explore and understand the
many ways that modern science and technology shape modern culture, values
and institutions, and how modern values shape science and technology.
PURPOSES OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- To improve quality of human condition.
- To provide solution to our practical problems.
- To establish relevant institutional linkages and essential mechanisms
- To develop individual knowledge.
- To find order in the chaos of nature and deliver personal and social liberation
- To give an information and explanation of the natural world
- To develop new areas of knowledge
- To combat irrationality.
- To maintain the availability of natural resources
LIMITATIONS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- Epistemological concerns. It cannot help us with questions about the God, the
ultimate Good, and Truth. It cannot deny nor confirm the existence of God,
soul, heaven and other uncertainties.
- Metaphysical concerns. Immaterial and transcendental nature is beyond the
grasp of scientific inquiry. It cannot speak to issues of ultimate origin,
meaning, or morality.
- Axiological concerns. It cannot answer questions about value.
- Dependent on the values and personal beliefs of those who use it.
- Use of natural resources that are being used in science and technology are
- Data is limited to the physically observable.
- Ultimately rest on past observations
- Not all of its principles are applicable to different world phenomena.
- Needs human intervention to carry out its functions properly
- It can predict forces of nature but it cannot prevent the prevent the
- Can not guarantee an ultimate solution to any specific problem.
- Can not fully explain what is in the mind of a person.
Technological leadership is vital to the national interest of any developing and
developed nation. As we enter the twenty-first century, humans ability to harness the
power and promise of leading-edge advances in technology will determine, in large
measure, national prosperity, security, and global influence, and with them the standard
of living and quality of life.
Requirements for technological innovations
- research and development
- cadre of scientists and engineers
- diverse manufacturing base
- productive workforce
- broad and sophisticated service sector
- climate and culture that encourage competition, risk taking and entrepreneurship
Technology and Economy
- Technology is the single most important determining factor in sustained
economic growth, estimated to account for as much as half a nation’s
growth over the past 50 years.
- Technology is transforming the very basis of competition-enabling small
businesses to perform high-quality design and manufacturing work that
previously required the resources of big business, while allowing big
businesses to achieve the speed, flexibility, and proximity to customers
that were once the sole domain of smaller firms.
- Technology provides the tools for creating a spectacular array of new
products and new services.
Technology and the Quality of Life
New technologies are improving the quality of life. These are seen in:
- Medical research in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and medical devices
helps us lead healthier lives and offers new hope for the sick.
- Environmental research brings better monitoring, prevention, and remediation
- Advanced monitoring and forecasting technologies – from satellites to
simulation – are helping to save lives and minimize property damage by
- Sophisticated traffic management systems for land, sea, and air transportation
enable the smooth and timely movement of more people and goods.
- Agricultural research is producing safer, healthier, and tastier food products.
- Automobile research is providing safer, cleaner, energy efficient, and more
- Aeronautical technology is making air travel safer, less costly, and more
- Energy research is helping to deliver cleaner, renewable, and less expensive
- Information and telecommunications technologies have enabled instantaneous
communications around the globe.
Emerging Technology Issues
- Information Age. Important issues include: fair rules of competition, the
protection of intellectual property, the security of business transactions in
electronic commerce, individual rights to privacy, law enforcement
investigation, upgrading the skills of the workforce, and integrating
information technologies into the educational system and the delivery of
- Global Investments. Support for research and technology development
remains strong in the advanced industrial nations such as U.S., Japan and the
countries of the European Union. Several Asian countries – including South
Korea, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia – are rapidly developing
technical capabilities that will enhance their competitive position in global
markets. Many industrializing countries are emphasizing the development of
indigenous technological capabilities – increasing research and development
investments, establishing research institutes and key technology programs,
forming government-industry partnerships, boosting technical manpower
development programs, modernizing key manufacturing sectors, and planning
for information superhighways.
- retain a long-term commitment to research education, and innovation.
- create a business environment in which the innovative and competitive efforts
of the private sector can flourish
- encourage the development, commercialization, and the use of civilian
- create a world-class infrastructure for the twenty-first century to support
industry and promote commerce
- develop a world-class workforce capable of participating in a rapidly changing