Natural science

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In science, the term natural science refers to a naturalistic approach to the study of the universe, which is understood as obeying rules or laws of natural origin.

The term natural science is also used to distinguish those fields that use the scientific method to study nature from the social sciences, which use the scientific method to study human behavior and society; from the formal sciences, such as mathematics and logic, which use a different (a priori) methodology and from the humanities.



Natural sciences are the basis for applied sciences. Together, the natural and applied sciences are distinguished from the social sciences on the one hand, and the humanities on the other. Though mathematics, statistics, and computer science are not considered natural sciences (mathematics traditionally considered among the liberal arts and statistics among the humanities, for instance), they provide many tools and frameworks used within the natural sciences.

Alongside this traditional usage, the phrase natural sciences is also sometimes used more narrowly to refer to natural history. In this sense "natural sciences" may refer to the biology and perhaps also the earth sciences, as distinguished from the physical sciences, including astronomy, physics, and chemistry.

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