I wasn’t talking about a full idea, but about a basic introduction. In religion, philosophy, political science, sociology, literary theory, etc. foundational methodological considerations come up right from the start of undergrad – you don’t have to wait until grad school to discuss them.
Indeed – and your field of physics may be a bit different, because of the fact that it deals with the foundations of physical reality, and therefore often bumps up against big metaphysical and epistemological questions – I’ve rarely ever met scientists who are worried about what “cause” means or what “nature” or “natural” mean. Those things are just taken for granted, as if they are so obvious they don’t need discussion. I’ve rarely heard two biologists chatting, saying, e.g., “You know, I was reading Hume on induction the other day, and I’m now wondering whether science has any guarantee that nature isn’t run by a blatant occasionalism.”
Anyhow, regarding “proof”, I have many times on these origins sites witnessed a scientist “correcting” someone by saying, “Science doesn’t deal in proofs; proofs belong in mathematics and logic only.” Well, if that’s the case, then surely science undergrads should be apprised of that fact early on, shouldn’t they? Or are these guys on the internet who are saying “science doesn’t deal in proofs” in fact saying something false? It sounds to me as if you are saying that scientists do sometimes speak of “proofs”. Is that correct? If so, this raises the question of “Who speaks for science?”
(Another question for you: Some scientists have lately taken the line that “truth” is not a word found in the vocabulary of science, that science never determines whether or not anything is “true”. The question then arises what science does establish about nature, if not “truths” about nature. Is it really the case that scientists aren’t trying to get as close as they can to the truth about nature? Or are the people making these statements heavily influenced by post-modernism, deconstructionism, etc., and not representative of the attitude of all scientists? I’d be glad to hear your comments on what your fellow-physicists today are saying on this subject. I have the impression that Newton, Kepler, Galileo, etc. thought they were getting at the truth about nature, so if scientists no longer think in those terms, that represents a major change in the self-conception of scientists.)