Did Duhem Show That Scientific Theories Can Be Ne

1831 words - 7 pages

The question as to whether scientific theories can be shown to be true or false is a complex one. The answer depends on one's interpretation of the meaning of theory. To what does it refer? Is its role to reveal the nature of reality, or is it merely a human construct? In which case what do we mean by truth? Is it an accurate description of reality, or does it simply refer to a successful theory that produces accurate predictions? Duhem attacks this problem from a very strict non-metaphysical standpoint. As a result he shows that we can know nothing about material reality, and indeed very little about the validity of our own theories. In the end it appears that the theoretical framework within which scientists work is more a matter of convention than anything else.In order to determine whether the claim that scientific theory cannot be proven true or otherwise we must first understand what Duhem means by scientific theory. He introduces two possibilities as to the nature of a physical (which we can equate to 'scientific') theory. The first being that it is an explanation of the reality lying behind a group of experimental laws (those that are empirically determined). The second is that a physical theory is simply an abstract system to classify and summarize a group of laws.Taking the first possibility (a belief still held by many today): this seeks to look beneath the sensible appearances and find the reality beneath, which is causing the sensations we experience. However, this presents us with a problem. We only have access to perceptions so how can we hope to find a physical theory that provides a certain explanation of the reality causing these sensations? A theory can only suggest a reality that would produce all those perceptions on which our experimental laws are based. In that sense it becomes just a hypothetical explanation.A perfect physical theory, as described, aims to describe the reality of the material things whose properties we perceive. Therefore we are inexorably lead to the conclusion that in order for a physical theory to provide an explanation we must first understand the nature of material reality. This of course assumes that there is such a reality, distinct from appearances. However, this has now become a metaphysical question (the answer cannot come from empirical evidence since this deals only in sensation). So we are presented with a problem: if the value of a physical theory depends on the metaphysical system adopted then it is impossible for such a theory to achieve universal acceptance. There are many schools of metaphysics (Aristotelian, Newtonian, atomistic and Cartesian) and all hold different ideas as to the nature of reality. They are all at odds because each can find fault with properties of matter assumed by others. In their metaphysical beliefs are in conflict then by definition so would be the physical theories they adopt.Duhem goes on to say that no single metaphysical doctrine can be sufficient to create a...

Find Another Essay On Did duhem show that scientific theories can be ne

Can old immigration theories be applied to new immigrants?

957 words - 4 pages Joel Perlman and Roger Waldinger question in their theory the pessimism of the present scholarship on assimilation. These authors emphasize the duality of contemporary immigration and compare historical facts with new findings on contemporary immigrant research. Furthermore, they criticize the way scholars such as Alba, Hirschman and Falcon, and Lieberson and Waters, apply old immigration theories and how the results show prospects for

Street prostution cannot be eradicated. (This did have footnotes, but the numbers didn't show up)

848 words - 3 pages then solve the real problem, why these people are resorting to selling themselves on the street. As Les Twentyman has experienced how rough St. Kilda can be "I've been stabbed twice" , perhaps we can learn from this experience and imagine what it must be like for the young girls who must work there every night.One thing that must be noted is that the only reason the opposition is against the move is that the topic of sex-zones and prostitution is

It is a dialogue essay meant to show that you can make a dialogue essay.

893 words - 4 pages for no reason at all."Well I think she should go home, because I know how you are when you get drunk Tony," I said seriously. If he takes advantage of her I am going to be pissed."What's that supposed to mean? You know I can handle myself here!" Tony said arrogantly. I could tell that he was also getting pissed at me. I know he can handlehimself, but I still do not trust him with Erica and any other girls he has over there."I'm only looking out

TOK- “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

1462 words - 6 pages discovered without the scientific and the "valid" evidences. Nevertheless, scientific "truths" have been disproven in the past numerous times, therefore the "truths" we have today may soon be negated. The theory of evolution, the big bang theory, all are in fact theories, and not the truth. From the opposing side of view, one may argue that intuition or faith is unreliable and even if we did have a way of measuring and clearly seeing it, people

Evaluating an enthalpy change that can not be measured directly

611 words - 2 pages Chemistry Experiment.Dr. Watson.Evaluating An Enthalpy Change That CannotBe Measured Directly.Introduction.We were told that sodium hydrogencarbonate decomposes on heating to give sodiumcarbonate, water and carbon dioxide as shown in the equation below:-2NaHCO3(s)--------> Na2CO3 (s) + H2O (l) + CO2 (g) = DeltaH1This was given as deltaH1 and we had to calculate as part of the experiment.This however cannot be measured directly, but can be

A Tale of Bonding: Plenty of "Show Me" details, scnenery, etc. Can be used for either guy or girl.

1408 words - 6 pages sprang open with an unmatched forcefulness. The snakeskin gripped my hand as the blade locked in place. The side of the blade clearly read "440 Tempered Steel." I glanced around to see that Noel has lifted his head out of curiosity. As the wind slowly rustles the trees, a feeling of pride in my own weather predicting abilities slowly fills my body. As I wrap my fingers around the handle, I can feel my grip tightening around the snakeskin/metal body

In what sense can it be said that people in different cultures 'think differently'?

2883 words - 12 pages children can be confirmed to show their dedication to their faith. Do the children really comprehend the underlying truth of what this ritual actually represents, or do they just see confirmation as a process to show their dedication to the faith? Possibly the most famous study of a particular society's beliefs and thoughts is that of E. Evans Pritchard, and his study of the Azander of central and west Africa. He was able to write intricate

Show how code switching can be used for strategic purposes. In what way is code switching similar to or different from style shifting as a strategic tool.

2365 words - 9 pages used for strategic tool. Then I will show other findings that are similar to Monica Heller's article. Finally I will compare and contrast between codeswitching and style shifting as a strategic tool. (Swann, 2002)Let us begin with Heller's (1988) study of how codeswitching can be used as a strategic tool to achieve the following that I have classified into four main groups. They are to achieve rights and obligations associated with different

Establish whether there is an ethical theory that can be successfully applied to business organisations

2784 words - 11 pages The object of this essay is to establish whether there is an ethical theory that can be successfully applied to business organisations. In order to answer this question, it is necessary first to define the major ethical theories, which are utilitarianism, deontology and virtue ethics, before determining whether there are any other options. After that, the ethical needs, problems and limitations of work organisations will have to be examined so

Examine the argument that places can be a source of inclusion and exclusion for specific communities

1367 words - 6 pages identity’. A concept that is more favourable is that ‘who I am’ is learnt and that it does change often over our life span. A contrary explanation is that personal identity is not completely separate from social identity. Including group/collective identies, for example gender is both a social identity and an important part of personal identity, the same can be said for identities such as working class, race/ethnicity. Furthermore, it applies to

How can it be explained that Nazism made real, if partial, inroads into wider German Society?

2222 words - 9 pages even more difficult: distinguishing between the social impact of World War II and that caused by Nazi policy; the argument that most of the social change occurring under Nazism was in the 'subjective social reality' (changes to attitudes, psyche and mentality of the population, which can be very difficult to analyse). Therefore it is to be expected that there are many interpretations of the question 'to what extent did Nazism make real if partial

Similar Essays

To What Extent Can Modern Scientific Theories Be Said To Have Disproved The Claims That The Universe Has Been Designed.

1317 words - 5 pages dinosaurs did. In a town called Glen Rose in Texas Fossilised dinosaur footprints were found alongside large Human footprints. Creationists and the people of Glen Rose believe that this disproves the Darwinian Theory as it proves that dinosaurs and human's co-existed. The evolutionists are trying to prove that these are not human footprints as it attacks their theory strongly.As can be seen Creationists and Evolutionists are continuously attacking

Walls That Can Be Tuned Essay

1825 words - 7 pages workplaces. You must have noticed a periodic structure of hexagons or circles on the front glass. This is, in fact, an FSS which stops the microwave frequency to come out of the oven, since it is harmful to human beings. How and why do geometric shapes make an FSS act as a band pass or band stop filter? Well, it is very simple. As an example, shown here is a cross geometry and its equivalent circuit. It can easily be seen that when an incident wave

Can Marx's Theory Of History Be Truly Scientific?

2959 words - 12 pages human progression made, is now has a basis in science and technology. We tend to find facts more believable if we hear at the beginning "recent studies have shown that..." Although Marx strove for scientific standards he wrote in a time when science wasn't as strictly definable as it is today. Therefore, I would argue firstly that to see Marx's theory of history in terms of science is wrong. The title asks: can it be scientific, my personal opinion

Science Fiction Essay "Planet Of The Apes": There Should Scientific Elements That Are To Be Considered, Use Them In Your Essay If You Can.

944 words - 4 pages the ranks.A reoccurring characteristic of the theme in a science fiction text, in this case Planet of the Apes would be the domination of Apes, space travel and scientific research. The Apes are the dominating species in this text, because they wield the power over the humans and are used as lab rats for scientific research. For an example Taylor's crew member was already cut open when Taylor was demanding that he arrived with others on a space