Basic concepts

Adventures in Ethics and Science

Category archives for Basic concepts

Basic concepts: Truth.

No, I’m not going to be able to get away with claiming that truth is beauty, and beauty, truth. The first issue in understanding truth is recognizing that truth is a property of a proposition. (What’s a proposition? A proposition is a claim.) A proposition that is true has a certain kind of correspondence with…

In light of our recent snail eradication project: Why does salt “melt” snails and slugs? (And how do people manage to prepare escargot without ending up with a big pot of goo?) To answer this question, let us consider the snail as seen by the chemist:

This is National Chemistry Week. It’s always chosen to coincide with whichever calendar week includes October 23 (or 10/23), since October 23 is “Mole Day”. “Huh? Why would chemists celebrate a furry critter that burrows underground?” Not that mole. The mole chemists celebrate is a unit.

Coming on the heels of my basic concepts post about the norms of science identified by sociologist Robert K. Merton [1], and a follow-up post on values from the larger society that compete with these norms, this post will examine norms that run counter to the ones Merton identified that seem to arise from within…

A while back, I offered a basic concepts post that discussed the four norms identified by sociologist Robert K. Merton [1] as the central values defining the tribe of science. You may recall from that earlier post that the Mertonian norms of science are: Universalism “Communism” Disinterestedness Organized Skepticism It will come as no surprise,…

Since much of what I write about the responsible conduct of research takes them for granted, it’s time that I wrote a basic concepts post explaining the norms of science famously described by sociologist Robert K. Merton in 1942. [1] Before diving in, here’s Merton’s description: The ethos of science is that affectively toned complex…

A regular reader of the blog emailed me the following: Have you ever considered setting up a section for laymen in your blog where posts related to the philosophy of science, how research is conducted, how scientists think etc. are archived? An example of what I think might be a good article to include would…

Book review: The Canon.

The average American’s lack of scientific literacy has become a common complaint, not only among scientists but also among those who see our economic prospects as a nation linked to our level of scientific know-how. Yet somehow, science has become an area of learning where it’s socially acceptable to plead ignorance. Adults leave the house…

My last post for the basic concepts series involved phases of matter and transformations from one phase to another. This post will look at how a phase change can be put to practical use in a common household appliance — the freezer. My aim here is to give you a good thermodynamic feel for how…

Some months ago I made a (seemingly idle) threat to follow up my basic concepts posts on polar and non-polar molecules and intermolecular forces with a post on phase changes. Finally it’s here! Since the discussion here will be leaning on a number of the concepts discusses in the earlier posts, don’t be afraid to…