Scientific Controversies
No. 4: Can We Explain the World?

We know enough about the world to manipulate electricity, operate phones, send people to the moon. Modern science presumes the world can be understood, that technology based on that understanding will work, and that our ideas should be verified by experience and experiment. The world seems knowable and describable in mathematics. As neuroscientist Stuart Firestein argues, we will always be driven to know more, inspired by our collective ignorance. But we can wonder if there are fundamental limits to what we can know, if the mind is too complex to comprehend, if there are facts about the world that have no explanation. We invite Stuart Firestein and Philosopher Tim Maudlin to consider the question: Can We Explain the World?