Philosophy Of Science Essay

1680 words - 7 pages

Background

In the modern technological and highly specialized world scientists are seldom aware of the work of philosophers; it is practically unparalleled to find them queuing up, as they have done in Popper's case, to swear to the great practical beneficial influence which that philosophical work has had upon their own (1).

In his paper he started by the following “The problem which troubled me at the time was neither, 'When is a theory true?' nor, 'When is a theory acceptable?' My problem was different I wished to distinguish between science and pseudo-science; knowing very well that science often errs, and that pseudo-science may happen to stumble on the truth” (2)

Karl considers the empirical method of observations ensued by test or series of tests to approve a theory, and analysis of the results (empirical method) is not acceptable. As an alternative he recommended the following “I often formulated my problem as one of distinguishing between a genuinely empirical method and a non-empirical or even a pseudo-empirical method--that is to say, a method which, although it appeals to observation and experiment” (2)

He established that the main problem in the philosophy of science is that of demarcation, i.e., (distinguishing between science and what he terms 'non-science). Karl popper summarized his ideas in seven points as followed:

1. It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verification, for nearly every theory-if we look for confirmations.
2. Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions
3. Every 'good' scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen.
4. A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non scientific.
5. Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it.
6. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability: some theories are more testable, More exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks.
7. Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory; and this means that it can be presented as a serious but unsuccessful attempt to falsify the theory.
One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability” (2)

The Falsifiability and the Problem of Demarcation

As Popper characterize it, the central problem in the philosophy of science is that of demarcation, i.e., of distinguishing between science and what he denoted as 'non-science', under which he included logic, metaphysics, psychoanalysis, and others.

Popper is odd amid contemporary philosophers in that he admits the validity of the critique of induction, and indeed, goes away from it in saying that induction is never actually used by the scientist. However, he does not give in that this entails the skepticism which is associated with Hume (3), and says that the...

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