30

(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 ...


24

Duck typing in philosophy is variously called structuralism or functionalism, depending on the context. The idea that duck typing is the best way to articulate our commitment to scientifically-postulated entities, in particular, is most closely related to what philosophers call structural realism: the thesis that we should "epistemically commit ourselves ...


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 ...


16

You always run the risk of it being a goose! runs I would actually argue that nearly all of science uses this mentality. Most famously, it shows up in wave/particle duality. We assume light is a wave, because it looks like a wave and behaves like a wave. Or we assume light is a particle, because it looks like a particle and behaves like a particle. And,...


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

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, ...


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

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. ...


10

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".


9

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 ...


9

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

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

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 ...


8

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 ...


7

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 ...


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

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, ...


7

tl;dr– Science is weakly typed rather than either duck-typed or strongly typed. Points: Duck-typing isn't about type-determination, but rather ignoring types entirely. You probably meant to ask about "weak typing", where things can be considered ducks if we're able to frame them as such. Yes, science is weakly typed. 1: Duck-typing isn't ...


6

Underdetermination of theory by evidence, explored in great detail by Quine, means that from finitely many observations and measurements, that we are able to make by any point in time, even combined with perfect methodology, we are unable to determine a unique theory consistent with them. In other words, even if there were such a thing as the correct theory ...


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

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

Causation has been an open question in philosophy at least as far back as Hume's problematization of causation in An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. As such, there's no one universally accepted, uncontroversial understanding of causation in the philosophical world. The specific problem with your proposal is that there can easily be multiple ...


5

One can have quantitative predictions only if a hypothesis is well formulated within a background theory, which de facto will make of the hypothesis some sort of "mechanism". Also note that track records is not the only thing that matters in establishing a hypothesis, there is also: compatibility with other accepted theories, with common knowledge and ...


5

The topic you've raised is intricate indeed. Except for the two approaches you mention towards the social sciences - interpretation (advocated by anti-naturalists) and (nomological) explanation (advocated by naturalists), there is the pluralist stance combining the two, and there is the approach known as 'critical social science'. The pluralists contend ...


5

This answer should be read as a kind of extended comment on alanf's answer, which I broadly agree with, but would like to qualify. Deutsch argues that probabilities can be eliminated from physical theories, in other words, that we have no need of stochastic processes in a physical theory. In particular, he is concerned to maintain that quantum theory, which ...


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 ...


5

An empiricist should treat string theory as they do any other theory. They should study the theoretical framework as well as the experimental evidence and if either (1) There is no ability to ever test the predictions (2) An irreconcilable contradiction is found in the data are proven to be true then they should abandon the theory. As of now, neither of ...


5

The answer depends on the meaning of "really". The structure of Meditations is that Descartes sets out to doubt everything, no holes barred. At this point he is presumably doubting the existence of God as well. But is he "really"? God is never specifically addressed at this point. Eventually, Descartes finds himself unable to doubt cogito ...


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