The ‘Nature of Science’ and the Perils of Epistemic Relativism

Diego Romero-Maltrana, Federico Benitez, Francisco Vera, Rodrigo Rivera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


There is an increasing demand in the field of science education for the incorporation of philosophical and sociological aspects that are related to the scientific enterprise in school curricula, to the extent that the incorporation of these aspects is now considered a necessity. Several of these aspects can be categorised within the framework of the nature of science, or NOS. We warn that a possible misinterpretation of the common view of NOS tenets can lead to epistemic relativism. We pay special attention to the empirical and objective nature of science because these important features, properly understood, can help eliminate subjective flaws and protect against relativism. Some of the epistemological concepts that are relevant to this discussion are disambiguated in an attempt to prevent the temptation to take views to an extreme, as has occurred in some cases. We expect this analysis to contribute to the extant literature by improving how science is presented in the classroom without oversimplifying scientific practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1735-1757
Number of pages23
JournalResearch in Science Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Empirical nature of science
  • Epistemic relativism
  • Epistemology
  • Nature of science
  • Objective nature of science


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