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Evolution and Philosoph1

Evolution and Philosoph1 - Evolution and Philosophy Is...

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Evolution and Philosophy Is Evolution Science, and What Does 'Science' Mean? t is often argued, by philosophers and creationists alike, that Darwinism is not falsifiable, and so is not science. This rests on the opinion that something is only science if it can be falsified, i.e., proven wrong, at least in principle. This view, which is due to Popper, is not at all universally accepted, and some history of philosophy is in order to make sense of it and the criticisms made of it.[ note 1 ] At the time Darwin was formulating his view of evolution, the prevailing exemplar of science was the Newtonian program. Laws were paramount, and they determined the outcome. Science sought generalisations. Darwin tried to make a Newtonian science, and was hurt when the leaders of the field like Whewell and Herschel, two of his acquaintances and mentors, dismissed his theory as insufficiently like their model of science.[ note 2 ] William Whewell was the first real philosopher of science. He was heir to the English and Scottish schools of empirical commonsense. He rejected Hume's notion that induction (proving a rule or law by reference to singular examples of data and observation) was not correct, even if he didn't deny the logical force of the argument, that you cannot prove a universalisation no matter how many pieces of evidence you have to hand. Whewell proposed what he called the 'consilience of inductions' - the more inductive cases you have based on data, the more reliable the generalisation. This is what Darwin tried to attain, and partly explains why he spent so many years gathering case after case to bolster his theory. He thought he was doing it the Right Way [ Ruse 1979 ]. Another school of thought was Positivism . This view affirmed that the only true knowledge was scientific knowledge, and that only positively established proofs were scientific knowledge. This meant the positivists had to be able to distinguish between real science and the pseudosciences of phrenology, spiritualism and the other crank theories coming onto the scene during the nineteenth century. One influential positivist was the physicist Ernst Mach of Mach speed fame, and from him grew a school of thought in the German-speaking countries of Europe known as Logical Positivism, centering on Vienna. The Logical Positivists held that something is science when it can be verified, and they had all kinds of rules for that, based on Hume's dictum that whatever does not logically follow from matters of fact or number was metaphysics. This was equivalent to saying it was literally nonsense for the positivists. When it was observed that the Verification Principle was unverifiable, and so nonsense, the school fell apart. However it spurred the young Karl Popper [ note 3 ] to put forward his own way of telling apart science (of which the exemplar was the new physics) from pseudoscience (of which the exemplars were Marxism and Freudianism). Popper also accepted the legitimacy of metaphysical statements, but denied they were any part of science. Popper's view (a variety of logical
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