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The Scientific Account Of Inductivism Vs. Falsificationism: Is Science Objective?

1023 words - 4 pages

The following essay aims to discuss whether science is objective or subjective in light of two competing theories: inductivism and falsificationism. Addressing the main quote, I will state how Popper would respond to two of Chalmers’ core ideas, before providing my own opinions and justification on the matter.

Chalmers account of science is from an inductivist’s perspective. He believes that science is achieved through justifying universal statements from singular statements. (Chalmers, 1976) Thus, leading to believe that these statements can be proven. Falsificationists disagree with the view that scientific knowledge is proven knowledge. They reason that no number of observations will sufficiently prove a claim. On the contrary, it only requires one observation to sufficiently disprove a claim. Popper would respond that it is greater than probable that a claim will be false. He would conclude that scientific knowledge is not proven knowledge but rather the best justification of our understanding of the world at any given time.

I further this opinion of Popper; nothing in science can be seen as an unquestionable truth. It is illogical for any singular statement to be considered a universal statement. By analogy, it is illogical to presume all dogs are brown because, through observation, you’ve only ever seen brown dogs. This logic predisposes science for failure. An excellent example of such is the paradigm shift away from Newtonian physics in light of Einstein’s discoveries. Einstein presented a new context for motion that was otherwise not considered by Newton. The fact is that almost every scientific ‘truth’ to be presented throughout history has been falsified, which is an inherent flaw within the notion of induction.

However, I do concur with Chalmers in that scientific knowledge is reliable (Chalmers, 1976) even whilst I don’t believe scientific knowledge to be an unquestionable truth. If scientific knowledge is yet to be falsified after being subjected to rigorous testing, it then represents an accurate generalization in-line with current observations of a particular phenomenon. Referring back to Newtonian physics, even whilst it was generally proven to be false, it was more than sufficient in being applied to most Earth-bound phenomena - in other words, phenomena with speeds insignificant compared to the speed of light.

Chalmers then claims that science is objective. (Chalmers, 1976) This further implies that inductive inference in itself is objective. Falsificationists disagree with this view. They reason there are two ways in which induction could possibly be justified: either priori or posteriori, in other words, logically or scientifically. First, it seems as if any surmountable evidence is immaterial compared to the universal claim. This suggests that induction cannot be proved logically. Second, it is paradoxical to attempt to prove a method of proving scientific using the very claim you are trying to prove. This...

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