The words 'science' and 'theory' probably get used in as many ways as there are scientists and theorists.
Science the advent of quantum physics, even the meaning of fact is in doubt, not to mention the fact of meaning.
Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>I'm cutting this off from either agreement or disagreement with any earlier
>posts; perhaps also it is irrelevant. Others can decide.
>"Science" and "Theory" are hotly debated terms; also, of course, the
>activities in the world which those terms do or don't refer.
>Since the late 19th- or early 20th-c (especially in the anglo-phone world)
>"science" (or theories of science) tends to be positivist. The German word,
>at least in the mid-19th-c was (usefully) vaguer than it became in English
>after the work of Russell, et al. The result of all this (I'm familiar with
>only a few 'positions' in a complex field) is that the word "scientific" (as
>in the subject line) can't help but smack of the white-coated pitchman on
>the TV screen telling you what tooth paste to use. "Science tells us" and
>similar phrases should, I think, be avoided.
>"Theory" can carry an authoritarian flavor (as well as the opposite: a
>flavor of mere nonsense). I prefer to confine its unapologetic use to the
>hard sciences. We can't avoid a wider (and sloppier) use of it, but care (a
>sort of apologetic tone) is, I think, appropriate to its uses in such
>phrases as "literary theory" or "theory of the state." In all cases, I
>would think, it the sense of _explanation_ of given data, not an assertion
>of fact. "Theory of Evolution," for example does not refer to the fact of
>evolution'; that fact is a given: the various theories of evolution are
>attempts to explain it. Cf. "theory of gravity": it is not an assertion of
>the fact that the moon circles the earth; it is an attempt to _explain_ WHY
>the moon follows the orbit it does.
>P.S. I can't remember the author, the title, or even the date (decade) of an
>interesting article in Critical Inquiry on "objective correlative" (and
>similar phrases) in early 20th-c modernism. It's on a shelf a few feet away
>but my eyes don't allow me to scan the tables of contents.