Calling something a “scientific truth” is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it carries a kind of epistemic (how we know) credibility, a quality assurance that a truth has been arrived at in an understandable and verifiable way.
On the other, it seems to suggest science provides one of many possible categories of truth, all of which must be equal or, at least, non-comparable. Simply put, if there’s a “scientific truth” there must be other truths out there. Right?
Let me answer this by reference to the fingernail-on-the-chalkboard phrase I’ve heard a little too often:
“But whose truth?”
If somebody uses this phrase in the context of scientific knowledge, it shows me they’ve conflated several incompatible uses of “truth” with little understanding of any of them.
As is almost always the case, clarity must come before anything else. So here is the way I see truth, shot from the hip.
While philosophers talk about the coherence or correspondence theories of truth, the rest of us have to deal with another, more immediate, division: subjective, deductive (logical) and inductive (in this case, scientific) truth.
This has to do with how we use the word and is a very practical consideration. Just about every problem a scientist or science communicator comes across in the public understanding of “truth” is a function of mixing up these three things.
Written By: Peter Ellertoncontinue to source article at theconversation.edu.au