A certain dose of skepticism is certainly useful for the practice of science. But what about the philosophical relationship between science and skepticism?
Epistemological skepticism claims, as is well known, that none of our beliefs satisfy the conditions necessary for KNOWLEDGE.
According to the standard conception of knowledge, someone knows that p,
But epistemological skepticism denies that we can ever conclusively determine whether p is true or not. What remains are therefore only more or less justified beliefs or opinions, but never real knowledge.
But this is a problem for science, which already carries knowledge in its name (scientia from scire = to know), and of which most people probably assume that it is able to deliver more than justified beliefs?
Question: Can we use science to attain knowledge, or are justified beliefs all we can ever achieve epistemically?
Not if you go to scientific philosophy, which basically says, that nothing is regarded as true, but it maybe regarded as supported by evidence, until contrary evidence is found, and that all that may be assumed is, that that which is supported by the most evidence, is regarded as our best current model.
It has changed a little in recent times, and the old stronger. ' Nothing is regarded as proven, but may be regarded as disproved if contrary evidence is found.' Is now a little out of fashion, because it is thought too idealistic to be workable. Though it is still treated with respect. Science deals in knowledge, ( of evidence ) but never proof or truth, that is one of the great popular misunderstandings.
Given how scientific knowledge is defined, I often wonder if it is not identical with agnosticism, in all but name.
Having said all of which of course, the old adage that. The philosophy of science, is virtually the last thing that any working scientist ever has on their mind. Is probably very true.
A religious philosopher once said. "What is the use of science, if it never gets you to a final truth, but only nearer to it with time. And undermines its own truth by finding ever finer levels of measurement, to find ever more ( albeit smaller ) errors." Well yes, but to rephrase and shape the old looking for a cat in a dark room metaphor. Science is about going into the dark room, with a flashlight, then checking each box in the room, and saying. "No its not in this one." "Philosophy is pure reason and therefore saying. "The cat must be in the room, and probably in a box because it can not be seen." And religion is standing outside the room, not going in and looking, but declaring. " I know exactly which box the cat is in, because my invisible friend told me, and in any case I have a large stick, do you want a fight."
If science ever did deliver true knowledge, then it would not be science any longer.