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47

Isaac Asimov wrote a great essay related to this, The Relativity of Wrong. This quote summarizes his point: My answer to him was, "John, when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat,...


14

It would be hard, I suppose, to improve substantially on Richard Feynman’s discussion of uncertainty in science, from a book of lectures, The Meaning of it All. The bare bones of his idea are that we cannot be absolutely certain of anything, and thus have to remain open to a revision of our ideas if and when new facts come in, but that we are dealing with ...


13

We have confidence in scientific theories, not unshakeable convictions in our knowledge of their certainty. A scientific belief simply cannot be justified by any other means than the various evidences produced by scientific analysis and experiment. I'm not sure it's fair to demand that a theory be absolutely true; rather it should predict things, solve ...


12

If theories P and Q are falsifiable, then: (1) there exists a finite set of observation sentences Γ such that ¬ P is a logical consequence of Γ, (2) there exists a finite set of observation sentences Σ such that ¬ Q is a logical consequence of Σ. Fact 1. If P is falsifiable, then (P ∧ Q) is also falsifiable, for any ...


11

Popper described his rejection of the Kantian a priori here. A reply from a Kantian perspective can be found in this student paper.


11

I don't think it's true that scientific beliefs are increasingly held to be true. At least in philosophy we have learned the lesson of the "Pessimistic Induction". What has changed is the general public's perception of science. They might well be increasingly certain of science. That's due partly to their increasing use of and reliance on the products of ...


10

Popper objected to Marxism because Marxism is historicist: Marxism claims that it can predict the future course of history. When I discuss Marxism below, I'm discussing what Popper said about Marxism without necessarily claiming Popper was right. (I think he was far too generous to Marx in many respects. In particular, both Popper and Marx were very badly ...


9

It depends. Popper's falsifiability clearly discusses a way to define the nature of a fact, rather than the reduction of any logical argument. We can claim that logical arguments that are non-falsafiable are non-scientific from an objective perspective: These factors [Marxism, astrology] combined to make Popper take falsifiability as his criterion for ...


7

Popper believed that Marx's ideas led to dictatorship based on his observations of the events in the Soviet Union and the actions of the Stalin government. His real objection to Marx wasn't that it lead to dictatorship, but that Marx's ideas were unscientific. Popper was originally a fan of Marx who thought that Marxist economic theory was a perfect ...


7

The word "best" implies value judgments, and can't be evaluated independent of your goals for your worldview. But there are clear practical and pragmatic reasons why science is currently a dominant worldview. These include: Science is testable. Science is replicable. Science is attached to a large and growing body of useful, interconnected, internally ...


6

If you defined an isomorphism between the natural numbers and some element of a physical theory, this would imply that there exist statements about the physical theory could not be proven or disproven within the theory. It certainly doesn't say that every statement in the theory is beyond falsification; and it proves nothing whatever about what might happen ...


6

According to the way things are defined, a theory is 'scientific' or not—not the test. So if one can devise a test that can falsify a prediction of the theory, then the theory is scientific. If it is impossible right now to create such a practical test then, no, the theory is not scientific. If you can't actually perform any kind of test (for whatever ...


6

Deductive arguments aren't non-falsifiable because arguments aren't either true or false. Deductive arguments are either sound, valid but unsound, or invalid. Here's an example: (1) All men are mortal. (2) Socrates is a man. (3) Therefore, Socrates is mortal. It's only the conclusion, or one of the premises that could meaningfully be said to be ...


6

Like every -ism, also Historicism can be used as an over-simplifying label. Having said that, the starting point must be Hegel's Philosophy of History; Hegel's philosophy is complex and his Philosophy of History is a relevant part of his system. A key point is the: attempt to discover meaning or direction in history. Hegel regards history as an ...


6

Popper followed logical positivists (despite arguing with them on other issues) in separating “statements of empirical science from non-empirical statements”, the so-called demarcation. Therefore values, being non-empirical, do not enter the science proper, and after Kuhn Popper fiercely resisted all postmodernistic claims to the contrary. But positivists ...


5

I take a somewhat pragmatic approach. It's unlikely that the ratio of solid scientific knowledge to bogus knowledge is much different today than it was at other points in human history. My basis for the claim comes from reading histories of science and scientists. Invariably, false scientific ideas turn out to be reasonable and potentially correct ...


5

Walter Kaufmann had some strong opinions on Popper's scholarship in "The Open Society and Its Enemies" More about Hegel than Marx, but probably worth reading anyway given Hegel's influence on Marx


5

I'm not an expert on this, but I'm pretty sure Popper is a complete skeptic about induction. He bases this explicitly on a (mis)reading of Hume. And this is why his characterization of scientific practice is supposed to be a purely deductivist one, where bold conjectures are tested for refutation in the crucible of experience. Thus I suspect that he would ...


5

Popper was a fallibilist, not a skeptic. Fallibilism is the heart of one influential response to skepticism. Fallibilists hold that people often have sufficiently strong justification to know that there is for example a tree in the yard. According to fallibilists, a skeptical argument about knowledge relies on setting the standard of justification for ...


5

Since I can't search all of Popper's works to see if it is addressed anywhere, I'll give an answer based on a specific work. A minimal answer: In a footnote in The Logic of Scientific Discovery Popper states: "Note that I suggest falsifiability as a criterion of demarcation, but not of meaning." This is in a section where he's discussing positivism. In ...


5

Someone can verify a theory by working out its predictions and testing if they are confirmed. This approach was developed by logical positivists, especially Carnap, under the name "verificationism". Unfortunately, they never came up with a quantitative "degree of confirmation", and their philosophy of distinguishing theoretical and factual truths, required ...


5

Popper did accept social sciences as sciences proper, and even was more positive on them than many natural scientists. Here is from Cibangu's Karl Popper and the Social Sciences:"Popper understood the social sciences as sciences in the full sense of the word, a position that attempts to refute the widespread idea that the social sciences represent a weak ...


5

Regarding progress specifically, it might be useful to start with Peirce. Peirce proposed a pragmatist conception of truth as the limit point of the process of empirical investigation and critique — the scientific community gradually approaches a consensus, and Peirce either defines that consensus view as the truth (the standard reading) or suggests that ...


5

The best second hand accounts of Popper are in chapters 3 and 7 of David Deutsch's book "The Fabric of Reality" or Chapters 1, 2, 9, 10, 15,16 of "The Beginning of Infinity" by Deutsch. The vast bulk of second hand accounts of Popper are so bad as that it is difficult to believe they are supposed to be about the material they are supposedly commenting on. ...


5

Goodman's new riddle of induction is old wine in new bottles. The substance behind the problem of induction is the following. People imagine that they arrive at theories by looking at evidence and drawing conclusions from it. But a collection of observations doesn't imply anything at all about the future. So conclusions reached by current evidence may not ...


5

Here is a longer quote from the preface to Open Society and its Enemies: I see now more clearly than ever before that even our greatest troubles spring from something that is as admirable and sound as it is dangerous — from our impatience to better the lot of our fellows. For these troubles are the by-products of what is perhaps the greatest of all moral ...


5

Conifold is right - we need to look further back than the Enlightenment. No historical phenomenon can be given a fixed date of origin but the Enlightenment as Popper would have understood it was predominantly an 18th-century movement. Popper speaks of 'three hundred years', which takes us back (from 1945) to the 17th, not the 18th, century. Also if Popper ...


4

Or perhaps he would say that Grue Theory isn't really falsifiable and therefore isn't a scientific theory until it can be falsified. But it's difficult to see how Grue Theory is different than, say, General Relativity which waited several years for the technology needed to produce definitive tests of the theory. Popper's Falsifiability criterion is ...


4

The reason some empiricists (most notably Popper) have denied that we can verify an empirical hypothesis is that they were thinking of universally quantified statements such as All ravens are black This statement, the argument would go, cannot be verified: regardless of how many ravens one observes, there is always the possibility that the next raven ...


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