PHILOS 8 Lecture 6: Karl Popper and His Theory April 25, 2017
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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHILOS 8
Professor
tamarweber
Semester
Spring

Description
April 25, 2017 ● Overview ○ The problem of Induction ■ One path: Inductive skepticism ● Falsificationism (Karl Popper): To explain what is happening in science,what's rational about science? Why is it different from crystal gazing? ■ Another path: Reject inductive skepticism (Induction is just irrational) ● Try to give a theory of confirmation/disconfirmation: relationship between evidence and hypothesis ● Logical positivists: ○ They think they can show induction is rational ■ Either way you have to say something about why the scientific process if epistemically good, why it is a reasonable process ○ Seems like we cannot justify induction ○ But it seems there is a form of inductive arguments is epistemically good, what scientists are doing is rational/reasonable ● Karl Popper ○ Popper different from the LP (logical positivists) in two important respects ■ He was not trying to give an account which sentences are meaningful. He wanted to distinguish between scientific and pseudoscientific hypotheses and theories ■ Popper was an inductive skeptic , he did not try to give a theory of confirmation ● Popper’s tasks ○ 1 distinguish scientific theories from pseudo scientific theories ■ Demarcation problem: is the problem of distinguishing scientific theories from pseudoscientific theories ■ Important to scientists and public because we use them all the time to justify one side from the other ■ Popper’s theory of falsification: A hypothesis is scientific if and only if it has the potential to be refuted by some possible observation ● Scientific theories take risks: You can be false if the evidence is available. ● Pseudo-scientific theories do not ○ 2 given that he thinks that induction is irrational, he needs to explain why scientific practice is rational/reasonable ■ Because he is an inductive skeptic: ■ Popper's views of science: ■ Confirmation is a myth. An observation cannot support a theory only refute ■ All testing in science is an attempt at refuting theories by observation ○ 3. Inductive skepticism is not a threat to rationality of science ■ Induction is a myth but science doesn’t need it anyway ■ For popper, falsification is a deductive project ■ Scientific theories that make false predictions are proved false by deduction ■ Example: ● H: All flamingos are pink ● Falsification prediction: The next flamingo is pink ○ If it is not pink, then your H is going to be refuted ○ If it is pink, it has not been refuted yet ● According to his TOF (Theory of Falsification): ○ The fact that the next flamingo is pink does not confirm that all flamingos are pink ○ It just shows that H has not been refuted ○ You can only be confident about a theory that can been refuted ○ You can never confirm a hypothesis ● Falsification as a view of scientific change ○ Science changes through a two step cycle that endlessly repeats: ○ Step 1: Conjecture ■ Should be bold and take risks. ○ Step 2: Attempt at Refutation ■ Scientists should try to refute their own theories ○ If step 2 succeeds, then what? ■ Start with cycle again ○ New conjectures won’t just build in exception to explain away a refutation ■ Want to give a new conjecture instead that isn’t just a patch ■ Ex: (H) All dairy products
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