Journal Article

The One World, One Science Argument

André Kukla

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 59, issue 1, pages 73-88
Published in print March 2008 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online March 2008 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
The One World, One Science Argument

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The one world, one science argument (so named by Rescher) is advanced by Carl Sagan and others to support the thesis that we will be able to learn to converse with intelligent extraterrestrials if and when we encounter them. The prima facie obstacle to extraterrestrial communication is that the aliens’ culture and geography are bound to be so different from ours that we would find it extremely difficult, if not practically impossible, to find a common topic on which we can both converse. Sagan's rebuttal is that we will share mathematics and the laws of physics, these being the same for all intelligent beings regardless of local cultural and geographical variations. I show that this argument fails even if its contentious assumptions about science and the world are granted—that is to say, it fails on uncontentious grounds. 1



OWOS and Social Constructivism


OWOS and Conceptual Relativism


OWOS and the Selection Problem


The Fundamental Laws Solution


The Mathematics Solution


The Radio Solution


The Common Conditions Solution


The Intractability of the Selection Problem


The Superfluity of OWOS

Journal Article.  6868 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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