Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Conjectures and Refutations by Sir Karl Popper :: Science Sir Karl Popper Scientists Essays
Conjectures and Refutations by Sir Karl Popper In a broad sense science is a systematic quest for knowledge. With this working definition in mind one can see that many areas of human endeavors could qualify as science. Therefore, Popper attempts to find a point of demarcation between science and psuedo-science. "Is there a criterion for the scientific character or status of theory."(1) The most widely accepted answer to this problem Popper says is induction and empirical method. At this point I find it necessary to define these two terms. One, the idea of induction as it is used in this context is the process of deriving general principles from particular facts or instances.(2) Two, the empirical method is basing an idea on observation or experiment or an idea guided by practical experience and not by theory.(3) The most notable contributor to modern thinking about these two concepts was John Stuart Mill. Mill formulated proofs that he believed to characterize empirical science in his System of Logic (1843).(4) Popper believes that these two things alone cannot differentiate between science and psuedo-science. He emphasized the hypothetico-deductive character of science.(5) Whereby scientific theories are hypothesized and statements from them can be tested. If experimentation falsifies these statements then they are refuted. However, if the statements survive experimentation then and only then can they be tentatively accepted. No theory, however well tested can be conclusively established. Popper further goes on to say that every attempt to test a theory is an attempt to falsify it. Testability is Falsifiability. At a convention of the Aristotelian Society at Oxford in 1936; Popper gave his hypothesis which was to become world famous -- "what we call scientific knowledge is hypothetical, and often not true, let alone certainly or probably true".(7) Theories are never really confirmed by experiment, they can only survive from one test to another, remaining hostage to possible disproof tomorrow. For the first part of Poppers argument I must adamantly agree. Science is a continual process through which induction and empirical method play a major part, Nonetheless, if a theory is to be scientific it must be able to be tested. It must have this component of Falsifiability! If we do not continually test ourselves and strive for reaffirmation we risk falling in to a pit of conjecture and; I would further say that any theory that cannot be falsified by either present means or by proposed means cannot be a scientific one.