The Limitations of Falsificationism

The Limitations of Falsificationism Problems stemming from the logical situation (87) Recap: the ? logical point? in favour of falsificationism over inductionism is that, while no finite number of observation sentences will prove a general claim, one single observation sentence will disprove it.? BUT: 1. 1. Falsificationists accept theory-dependence (and hence, fallibility) of observation sentences, therefore the observation sentence can be rejected instead of the theory. 2. 2. Furthermore, any observation sentence will rely on theories behind the instruments involved.?

That means that even if the observation sentence is confirmed according to the instruments, the theory is not necessarily falsified, because the problem could be with the theory behind the instruments, or other assumptions.? (Examples: Tycho Brahe? s refutation of Copernicus, p. 89, Lakatos? s example, p. 90. ) 3. 3. Finally, the falsificationist does not (despite Popper? s claims) solve the problem of induction, because the observation sentence has to be confirmed.? Any observation sentence is a disguised general claim, because it is not just saying.

The Copernican revolution was a very slow process, and required several different developments over the course of over a century.? Copernicus himself had no answer to apparently crippling criticisms of his theory (the tower argument, the flung-off-the-Earth point [p. 95]) so if his theory had been thoroughly dumped, it would not have survived until Galileo, who did the most to respond to the criticisms. Inadequacies of the falsificationist demarcation criterion and Popper? s response (101) The falsificationist distinguishes between science and pseudo-science by saying that only the former is falsifiable.?

Popper does acknowledge the historical nature of scientific knowledge (how novel a statement is depends on the background context, plus the fact that development is not a steady increment) and the theory-dependence of observation, but seems to put too much stress on the critical component of science (falsification) and demand too much of theories (that they be abandoned when falsified).? In that spirit, it stresses experimental testing of theories more than application of the theory to solve puzzles. Reasons to regard theories as more structured than either view suggests:

History suggests structure – see description of the Copernican revolution, where Galileo? s work depended on Copernicus? s and they were not putting out rival theories in a ? marketplace of ideas? 2. 2. Once you accept the theory-dependence of observation statements, you must acknowledge that the precision of concepts within the theory depends on the theory itself (compare Newtonian concept of MASS with concept of JUSTICE).? That is, (a) meaning is holistic (there is no way to define a term outside of a theory) (b) the meaning of a concept gets more precise as theories develop (see ? lectric field? , p. 106) Introducing Thomas Kuhn (107) Kuhn developed his theory as a result of studying the history of science.? Key features of Kuhn? s theory of scientific development: 0 ? Paradigmatical nature of scientific theories (and resulting incommensurability) 1 ? Revolutionary character of scientific development 2 ? Key role played by Sociological characteristics of scientific communities Kuhn? s view of the stages of scientific development: 1. 1. Pre-science where all fundamentals are up in the air and subject to dispute 2. 2.

Normal science, within which workers adhere to a single paradigm 3. 3. Crisis state, where a new paradigm has emerged and draws allegiances because of problems with the current paradigm 4. 4. Revolution where a significant proportion of scientists move to the new paradigm 5. 5. New normal science (i. e. , go to 2, repeat to fade) Paradigms and Normal Science (108) A criticism of Popper? s falsificationism is that it stresses too much the role of extraordinary scientists (those who make the ? conjectures? ) and not enough of the grunt workers.?