Karl popper falsifiability is the heart of science sir karl popper 1902-1994



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KARL POPPER

Sir KARL POPPER 1902-1994

  • Hume is right: we
  • never get beyond
  • conjectures.
  • “Darwinian” view
  • of human
  • “knowledge”:
  • PS1TT1
  • EE1PS2…

PROBLEM OF THE CRITERION (264, theme of whole essay)

  • Problem: what distinguishes science from non-science or pseudo-science?
  • Lots of theories in political “science” (e.g., Marx, Spengler, Nazism), psychoanalysis (Freud, Adler, Jung), claim to be scientific.
  • ARE THEY?
  • Popper’s experience in Adler’s clinic (p. 265).
  • Everything is consistent with, hence
  • corroborates or confirms his theory.

NONSCIENTIFIC THEORY

  • Marx, Spengler, Hitler, Freud, Adler:
  • Everything confirms their theories, nothing falsifies them.
  • N.B.: not just every actual thing, but every conceivable thing.
  • NON-SCIENCE IS UNFALSIFIABLE.

SCIENTIFIC THEORY

  • Newton, Einstein: most conceivable things falsify their theories:
  • N.B.: though no actual thing does
  • Example: A body has to fall (orbit, etc.) with a precise acceleration (velocity, etc), or else theory is false.
  • N.B.: though in fact theory is not
  • falsified.

PROBLEM OF THE CRITERION

  • Observation: Marx’s, Freud’s, Adler’s, etc., theories take no risk, but Einstein’s is risky (= falsifiable).
  • So, maybe:
  • Falsifiability is the criterion of science

FALSIFIABILITY 1 (P’s summary of numbered list, p. 266)

  • Popper accepts above solution:
  • Falsifiability is the criterion of science
  • Falsifiability =DEF the logical possibility of being proven false by observation =DEF can conceive of such proof without self-contradiction

FALSIFIABILITY 2

  • Falsification of scientific claim is logically valid:
  • T  O
  • ~ O_____
  • Thus ~ T
  • T=Theory is true
  • O=Observation implied by theory occurs.
  • [Recall Salmon, invalidity of scientific confirmation: T  O; O; Thus T.]

FALSIFIABILITY [3]

  • Falsifiable or not?
  • a) Unicorns do not exist.
  • Assume: unicorns are not invisible
  • b) Unicorns exist.
  • c) 3 x 7 = 21
  • d) Hitler never once wore mismatched socks.
  • e) Dinosaurs once roamed the Earth

SCIENTIFIC THEORIES ARE PROHIBITIONS

  • [explanation of Popper’s item #3, p. 266]
  • In a state of perfect ignorance, all things are possible so far as we can tell.
  • E.g., F=ma or F=2ma or F=3ma or…
  • Knowledge rules out some possibilities
  • OR: scientific theories are constrained
  • by observational data

THE SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDE

  • [explanation of Popper’s item #5, p. 266]
  • “Genuine test” is defined in terms of attempts to falsify.
  • Theories can be protected from the evidence by qualifications, promises, etc.
  • E.g.: Is the theory of global warming
  • falsified by the years of cooling?

POPPER’S “SOLUTION” OF HUME’S PROBLEM OF INDUCTION

  • i) Deduction is the only logic; there is no inductive logic.
  • ii) Theory of rationality: accept boldest unfalsified falsifiable theory
  • bold=risky=high content
  • Timid: the robin will fly south in the fall
  • Bold: the robin will fly south on 26 Oct.
  • Bolder: …26 Oct. at 1:23 p.m., SSW,…


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