philo - Joseph So Philosophy 8 Sarah As a strong opponent...

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Joseph So Philosophy 8 Sarah As a strong opponent of traditional induction in scientific discovery, Karl Popper favored the deductive alternative, falsification. Falsification is defined as the belief that a hypothesis is scientific if and only if it has the possibility of being refuted by some possible observation. Thus Popper believed that falsification was not only a better method of scientific discovery, but also acted as a demarcation criterion, distinguishing science from pseudo science. However Popper’s method of hypothesis falsification is challenged by the Duhem Quine thesis both as a means of expanding scientific knowledge and as a demarcation criterion. The Duhem Quine thesis is defined as the belief that premises cannot be individually tested but rather are tested as a “corporate body”. Within this paper I plan to provide the basis of Popper’s theory, then highlight two of the strongest criticisms of Popper’s position, and finally prove that falsification does not function as a demarcation criterion. Although Popper provides responses to the problems brought up by the Duhem Quine thesis, Popper does not sufficiently defend his stance of falsification without rejecting core values of his theory. To fully understand the flaws within Popper’s theory of falsification a better understanding of Popper’s beliefs is necessary. The two difficulties that Popper’s theory of falsification addresses are problems with induction and demarcation. Popper believed induction was irrational because it did not justify the logical conclusions of its premises.
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For example no matter how many instances a green emerald is observed, that does not guarantee the claim, “All emeralds are green.” However a single non-green emerald deductively shows that the claim is false. Thus Popper believed the process of falsification was the best method of scientific discovery because it does not use irrational induction but requires deduction. The second issue Popper’s theory attempted to solve was the Demarcation Problem. Under induction science is distinguished from pseudoscience when it makes a reference to empirical evidence that would verify its claims. However Popper argues that through induction many theories can qualify as scientific because their explanatory ability is so great, they can account for any empirical event. Additionally no amount of singular confirmations can ever prove the truth of a universal claim because there are an infinite number of confirmable singular claims. However a single contradictory observation can refute an entire generalization, eliminating the problem induction has
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This note was uploaded on 09/16/2011 for the course PHIL 8 taught by Professor Smith during the Spring '08 term at UCLA.

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philo - Joseph So Philosophy 8 Sarah As a strong opponent...

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