29

(Edit: this answer is now split into two parts, thanks to a lengthy discussion with Rex Kerr. I made my original answer on a very specific reading of the scientific method. He had a very different reading, which came to a different but very related outcome. I've tried to capture that in the first part. The second part is my original answer, for those who ...


23

If I am not mistaken, no hypothesis can be proven correct, we can only prove hypothesis wrong. This is known as "falsificationism". It viewed with much scepticism by today's philosophers of science. The author you mention, Elliot Sober, has suggested that it be retired, deriding it as "Popper's f-word" (referring to Karl Popper, whose own views on this ...


14

You are starting from the hypothesis that your understanding scientific method is correct and complete, and that everyone else has the same understanding. Neither of which is sustainable from the evidence here. There are no 'weaknesses' with scientific method, publishing and grants are issues of personality not science, as even scientists have ...


12

It can. The methodologies of experimental philosophy do attempt to apply the methodologies of scientific argument (though the philosophy of science does have quite a lot to say as to what constitutes a fact) to questions of moral philosophy. My own research also attempts to discern a philosophy of data through adoption of scientific techniques though it ...


12

Quine does not subscribe to scientism, i.e. the epistemological primacy of the scientific method, but he is often taken to because his repudiation of scientism is non-traditional. Quine does consign epistemology to a "chapter of psychology", which would be scientism if he also preserved the traditional understanding of epistemology, as scientism does. But ...


11

The scientific method is simply a method for ranking theories. Logic and Theology are other methods. When using Logic to rank theories, we are asking the question "Which theory makes the most sense?" When using Theology to rank theories, we are asking the question "Which theory most closely matches my Holy Scripture?" When using Science to rank theories, ...


11

You don't use the term "null hypothesis" for pure facts. It is used in statistics, when you claim there is correlation between two events. Like "swans living near coal mines tend to be purple more often than swans living elsewhere". Here the null hypothesis is "living near coal mines doesn't affect whether swans are purple or not".


10

I think one can talk about "the" scientific method as long as it is understood that it is a broad outline rather than anything like a clear prescription. Specific sciences in specific periods provide something more along the lines of the latter, but such standards and best practices are explicitly understood as field specific and revisable, at least ideally. ...


8

The question contains an interesting slippage, between the idea that "our current understanding of reality is flawed" and "our basic scientific method is flawed." Clearly, we need to be careful here to separate the substantive from the methodological. It goes without saying that all of the findings of quantum physics mentioned in the question were ...


8

Touch is just another form of sensory input subject to imperfect reading of the world like any other sense. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactile_illusion The whole phantom limb phenomenon involves massive deception, not sure whether this fits in your categorization of "tact". (Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind - fascinating and ...


8

The operational consensus of physical scientists is that physicalism holds. That is, experiments are planned and executed as if physicalism is true. The reasons are simple: no compelling evidence has been found to the contrary despite various attempts (e.g. intercessory prayer studies, psi studies, etc.); and it makes planning and interpreting experiments ...


8

No, "the" scientific method does not really exist. Feyarabend has argued that historical case studies do not support the idea of a unique "scientific" method and, further, that such an idea is 'pernicious'. The idea that science can, and should, be run according to fixed and universal rules, is both unrealistic and pernicious. It is unrealistic, for it ...


8

Popper expresses his position on the testability of statements about probability most clearly at the end of Section 68 of LScD, see also Section 66. His position is that we have to make a methodological rule about what relative frequencies should be deemed consistent with a probability estimate. That rule, he maintains, should not be arbitrary but should be ...


7

What is a good question? First, let's concede that great questions are precisely new, unforeseen, unpredictable -- blind spots, or 'grey' areas of irreflexivity, from the perspective of the dominant episteme. So in this sense a great question 'expresses' the gaps in our existing explanations of the world, occupying 'plot holes' in our stories and theories. ...


7

Does anyone know if the idea that something can't be proved, only disproved has a specific origin? It was brought to prominence in modern philosophy of science by Karl Popper, who proposed falsificationism. (I cannot recommend the latter wikipedia entry though.) I also take it that it applies to pretty much any belief, whether it's an untested hypothesis ...


7

In formal logic this is called a Disjunctive Syllogism (sometimes called 'the process of elimination' in informal logic) - grandchild of the syllogism a la Aristotle you've got going on with the green man. As logically valid as they come, this one! Formally if one knows: 'X or Y' and 'not X', one may conclude 'Y' It's often difficult to find the ...


7

I think that you are confusing some things. Although statistics is a tool, among a wide choice of tools, used in the scientific method, it is not in itself the scientific method. It has also been my understanding that you use the scientific method to prove - not disprove - a hypothesis. In science, proof lies in the assertion, not the negation. Stephen Jay ...


7

That is what positivists and Popper would (and did) say. But in his own view Feyerabend is not confusing them, he is dissolving the distinction. And he was standing on the shoulders of giants. The context of justification/context of discovery distinction, just like "relativized a priori", was coined by Reichenbach, a founding father of logical positivism ...


6

This problem isn't unique to God, in fact as Michael suggests you would find it quite challenging to prove or disprove with certainty the existence of virtually anything. I think the primary contention here is not whether absolute proof exists for objects/concepts (God) or not, but whether the likelihood of their existence and non-existence is equal given ...


6

Sure, there are lots of things that fit in your category-- there's nothing particularly unique about the case of God (and it's not even one case, as there are many, many different conceptions of God, each of which can be argued separately.) First of all, any ethical claims are going to be outside the bounds of "proof", because "is" does not imply "ought". ...


6

I'm not sure this is really a philosophical question, it's more a matter of scientific process. However, the issue Feynman is talking about is controlling the variables in an experiment. If you do X and the rats do A, and I do Y and the rats do B, we don't know that X to Y is the cause of the change, because there are different rats, a different lab, a ...


6

Yes, of course. You can *scientifically prove** things deemed supernatural. But once you do, they are no longer supernatural. They are "natural," as demonstrated by the methods of the natural sciences. However, you are probably wasting your time on the various hobgoblins and eerie powers you list. We do not see such phenomena, werewolves, resurrections, ...


6

This point of view is better reflected if we change "observation" to "experiment" in the title, mere observation is more analogous to conjecture, so it may be somewhat misleading. This is how Jaffe and Quinn phrased it in their original 1992 proposal:"we claim that the role of rigorous proof in mathematics is functionally analogous to the role of experiment ...


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

"Science" is indeed a broad concept, and can be used loosely or more precisely. Generally speaking, the natural sciences (physics, geology, biology, chemistry, etc.) are unambiguously based upon the scientific method. There's little room for dispute here, as I see it (unless we get into theoretical physics beyond the ability for experimentation). The ...


5

I'm not sure I understand what the question is here... Essentially, yes. The scientific method can be applied to certain subsets of the general discipline known as "philosophy". It's merely a set of guidelines intended to facilitate a rigorous inquiry. There's nothing particularly unique about its relationship with the natural sciences. Anyone conducting ...


5

So my question is whether this result disproves usefulness, credibility or validity of scientific method? It would problematize the scientific method only for those cases where results are not repeatable through controlled observation. Most (if not all) mysterious quantum effects disappear at the level of everyday objects, so the odds of these kinds of ...


5

This is known as "the process of elimination."


5

The universe looks very unlike what one would expect from "an ever-changing river of spawning and dying truths caused by chaos and entropy". So, no, your fears are mostly unfounded. You can check how far off scientific theories are by seeing how well they predict various things. We've got falling bodies nailed. Superconductivity is iffy. With human ...


5

You've mixed a number of unrelated things together as "non-empirical phenomena", and the answers are different for each one, much like the answers would be different for how law deals with "non-larceny". When it comes to mathematical proofs, you start off knowing that you can't know empirically whether the Riemann hypothesis is true. So you can gather ...


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