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Does anyone have some examples or cases which demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of Poppers' theories?

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  1. Strength

Popper got his name recognition among logical positivists for his falsification theory of testing hypotheses. Popper criticized confirmation theory for being logically invalid, as it commits the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent. Popper's falsification method is logically valid (as it employs Modus Tollens), which he regarded as the model for testing a hypothesis.

Confirmation theory (affirming the consequent)

If this hypothesis is true, then we should observe this phenomenon.

We did observe this phenomenon.

Therefore, this hypothesis must be true.

Falsification theory (Modus Tollens)

If this hypothesis is true, then we should observe this phenomenon.

We did not observe this phenomenon.

Therefore, this hypothesis must be false.

  1. Weakness

While deductively valid, falsification theory is subject to the criticism from the Duhem-Quine Thesis that we cannot test a target hypothesis singularly. That is, testing a hypothesis is involved with many auxiliary hypotheses (and assumptions) which are woven into the target hypothesis. So even if the falsifying observation is not made, it is not clear which hypotheses are at fault.

Objection from the Duhem-Quine Thesis

If this hypothesis and all relevant auxiliary hypotheses (and assumptions) are true, then we should observe this phenomenon.

We did not observe this phenomenon.

Therefore, either this hypothesis or some of the relevant auxiliary hypotheses (and assumptions) must be false.

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