• Pelle
    26
    considering the surge of popularity attributed to both Kuhn and Feyerabend (who where fierce anti-Popperians). I wouldn't say it's a banality. Nonetheless, Popper still deserves credit for reinvigorating old ideas.
  • Inis
    243
    Nonetheless, Popper still deserves credit for reinvigorating old ideas.Pelle

    He really didn't just invigorate old ideas. They were his ideas and they were so radical, that still very few understand him.
  • Moliere
    1.6k
    well, along as universities are publicly funded I don't want my taxes to go to something that will ultimately lacks usefullness. Science is about solving problems, but Marxism nor Creationism solve problems: they merely provide explanations taken directly from their ideological framework (which is essentially a set of conclusions). Basically, their work festers in confirmation bias, which I think would be dangerous for academia and civilization as wholePelle

    Usefulness is a dangerous cudgel. For one there are many pursuits whose fruit are only born on the wave of seemingly useless inquiries -- consider philosophy, the study of foreign language, history, art, or even many of the sciences. There are scientists who study some phenomena not because it relates to the cure for cancer, better batteries, more incredible bombs, or more efficient processes but simply because it interests them. Anything useful is appended after the fact as an act of justification to appease the masters of utility that hang their crosses around academia.

    Further, usefulness is relative to a group. Marxism or creationism are useful to Marxists and creationists. And naturally, should they gain power, they wouldn't find the bourgeois or atheist sciences terribly useful. Should they be allowed to ban them on this criteria of usefulness?

    I believe they'd even be able to provide arguments that their work is, in fact, falsifiable while the work of bourgeois scientists and atheist scientists is mired in the preconceptions they are unable to let go of and is really just an elaborate way to emphasize their own bias.

    Then, for two, what's better is for people to simply be motivated by curiosity and to explore questions.


    Science is about a lot of things aside from problem solving, and there are many other subjects that don't fall into its purview which also get funding. If research institutions are to be free then it seems to me that usefulness, and other criteria, are just cudgels to exclude said freedom. Reason, in all its fallibility, is good enough to sort out bad arguments. We don't need criteria to sort out the pure from the impure.
  • Moliere
    1.6k
    There is: The Criterion of Demarcation.Inis

    I take it that here you'll refer me to my copy of LSD? :D

    But you can answer the question too. Suppose the criterion of demarcation does not hold, and not only that that there is no such criteria. What would be the more honest approach? To invent a more elaborate theory of science with better fidelity, or to point out that there is no such theory?


    This would be against the Scientific Method, and ruled out by the criterion of demarcation.Inis

    I think this sets out a beautiful example of just how the criterion of demarcation works in practice. We have the pure and the impure, and the impure? We need not consider them.

    But I would say that good old fashioned arguments are good enough to sort out the good and the bad, and we don't need some criteria to say which is worthy and which is not worthy of our consideration.

    Which isn't to say we need to consider everything. We could just not be interested in it. But that's a different stance than from one on high.
  • SophistiCat
    714
    considering the surge of popularity attributed to both Kuhn and Feyerabend (who where fierce anti-Popperians). I wouldn't say it's a banality.Pelle

    I didn't say all of Popper's ideas about science were banal - some of them were just wrong (kidding!) No, I was referring to ideas like "people trying to falsify eachother's theories" and other pop-Popperianisms that some people, including scientists, swear by. Popper's actual lasting impact on the philosophy of science is far more dubious than his rock-star fame would suggest.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    Here's the rub.

    Popper, who is deservedly admired, set out a logic for science that is pretty neat. But the problem with logic, as Feyerabend showed, is that people are only occasionally logical.

    There is a gap between what is true and what is believed. Into that gap can pour all manner of oddities - ad hoc, ad hom, add whatever you like. Scientific method cannot be cleanly logical.
  • Banno
    4.8k
    But in distinction to Feyeraband, these research programs are not incommensurable; they do not differ in terms of a conceptual scheme; they can differ in scope of application; and scientific inquiry admits research programmes that, strictly speaking, have contradictory hard cores.fdrake

    And that's one issue with Feyerabend; incommensurability.

    Davidson's argument against incommensurability, in On the very idea of a conceptual schema, shows that research programs or paradigms or whatever you wish to call them are not incommensurate. You and I might take that as read; others will doubtless disagree.

    But the more general point of the distinction between belief and truth made above, still holds.
  • Pelle
    26
    I think you’re misunderstanding my argument. I’m not advocating for anyone’s academic freedom to be taken away. After all, there are Marxists and Creationists at many universities and it’s not like I want them banned off campus. However, because of the Popperian influence of the sciences, these people are criticised beyond belief and noone takes their theories seriously. (Creation scientists have some of the least amount of notation of all scientific groups.) This is because people are providing sound and rational arguments, which I agree with you is the right way to go.

    If we were to apply Feyerabend’s doctrine of science to the academies however, we would have a problem. The poor scientific performance of these pseudoscientists could be rationalized by ”pluratiy of method” and ”anything goes”. Science would infected by improductive forces. That is my primary concern.

    Also, I feel as if you’re being very uncharitable about what could be considered useful. In my opinion, anything that brings us closer to the truth is fundamentally useful, which includes philosophy, language study and the Humanities.
  • Inis
    243
    But you can answer the question too. Suppose the criterion of demarcation does not hold, and not only that that there is no such criteria. What would be the more honest approach? To invent a more elaborate theory of science with better fidelity, or to point out that there is no such theory?Moliere

    Before Popper's criterion of demarcation between science and non-science, the prevailing wisdom was that of the Vienna Circle. The Logical Positivists distinguished between science and nonsense via their criterion of meaning.

    Popper not only demarcated science this way, but in the process rescued metaphysics.

    There is no sense in which Popper's criterion of demarcation "does not hold". You can only be on one side of it or the other, though you can be mistaken about which side you think you are on.
  • Inis
    243
    Popper, who is deservedly admired, set out a logic for science that is pretty neat. But the problem with logic, as Feyerabend showed, is that people are only occasionally logical.Banno

    No he didn't. Popper argued that it is logically impossible to verify or falsify a scientific theory. He sets out a Method, based on certain epistemological truths he discovered. That's why it's called the Scientific Method.

    Nevertheless, there is an asymmetry between verification and falsification when it comes to universal statements, and this is what he exploits in his method.
  • aletheist
    984
    Popper argued that it is logically impossible to verify or falsify a scientific theory. He sets out a Method, based on certain epistemological truths he discovered. That's why it's called the Scientific Method.Inis
    Charles Sanders Peirce spelled out the scientific method (as outlined here) the year after Popper was born.
  • Inis
    243
    Charles Sanders Peirce spelled out the scientific method (as outlined here) the year after Popper was born.aletheist

    Where does "A" come from?
  • aletheist
    984

    A well-prepared mind. Again, Peirce called it a conjecture long before Popper did.

    Over the chasm that yawns between the ultimate goal of science and such ideas of Man's environment as, coming over him during his primeval wanderings in the forest, while yet his very notion of error was of the vaguest, he managed to communicate to some fellow, we are building a cantilever bridge of induction, held together by scientific struts and ties. Yet every plank of its advance is first laid by Retroduction alone, that is to say, by the spontaneous conjectures of instinctive reason. — Peirce (1908)
  • Inis
    243
    A well-prepared mind. Again, Peirce called it a conjecture long before Popper did.aletheist

    OK, so accepting, for the sake of argument, that given a scientific problem, we manage to retrodict a solution, what are the "reasons to suspect" that A is true. Can you give an example?
  • aletheist
    984

    As stated in the other thread, the observed (and surprising) fact C is a conclusion that deductively follows from A. In Peirce's own words, also from 1908:

    At length a conjecture arises that furnishes a possible Explanation, by which I mean a syllogism exhibiting the surprising fact as necessarily consequent upon the circumstances of its occurrence together with the truth of the credible conjecture, as premisses. On account of this Explanation, the inquirer is led to regard his conjecture, or hypothesis, with favor. As I phrase it, he provisionally holds it to be "Plausible."

    Peirce's favorite example was Kepler's series of hypotheses regarding the orbit of Mars. After only a few unsuccessful conjectures, he tried an ellipse, which not only fit the data that he had from previous observations, but also led to predictions that were subsequently corroborated by further observations.
  • Moliere
    1.6k
    However, because of the Popperian influence of the sciences, these people are criticised beyond belief and noone takes their theories seriously.Pelle

    I'm not sure that it's because of Popper. I'd say it's just because of argument.

    If we were to apply Feyerabend’s doctrine of science to the academies however, we would have a problem. The poor scientific performance of these pseudoscientists could be rationalized by ”pluratiy of method” and ”anything goes”. Science would infected by improductive forces. That is my primary concernPelle

    Is it a doctrine of science? I don't think that's quite right. In a sense, yes, but also it's a description of science at the most general level. There is a sense in which Feyerabend argues science shouldn't be so constrained as it is now. And the counter is the point out some fairly uncontroversial examples of non-scientific thinking that could then be part of the academy. But my thought is just -- so what? For you, at least, your concern is about productivity. I'll respond to that below.


    Also, I feel as if you’re being very uncharitable about what could be considered useful. In my opinion, anything that brings us closer to the truth is fundamentally useful, which includes philosophy, language study and the Humanities.Pelle

    It's more that "useful" is a group-relative evaluation. Useful could be construed broadly, and it can also be construed narrowly -- but it's certainly relative to whatever goal or value a group or person happens to hold. Though "use" isn't Popper's criteria, so I don't think he falls to such a criticism. For him it's simply that his prescriptions don't mimic obvious examples of productive science, so his prescriptions need to be more limited than what he sets out. But if that be the case, then he hasn't answered the question of the criterion which he set out to answer.

    I suspect the question he sets out for himself is not answerable really, at least for the standards that he sets for himself. "Science" is one of those things that can't be crystalized into a method because it is a human activity which includes novelty, human emotion, and so forth. It's often more like an art than a science, except we call it science because of its dedication to clarity, precision, empiricism, and other broad values of knowledge production where art has no such commitments (and it need not to). It may not be exactly like a family resemblance term, but "science" does seem like a family resemblance term.
  • Moliere
    1.6k
    That is to say it is logically impossible for Popper's criterion of demarcation to be false? Or do you mean to say that because it plays a prescriptive role it does not make sense to say his criterion is true or false? Or what?
  • Moliere
    1.6k
    I will say that over time I tend to think of Kuhn as orthogonally to the other two. Feyerabend shared some of Kuhn's thoughts with respect to incommensurability, but their goals in writing were very different. Kuhn kind of goes back and forth between the sociology of scientific groups to how scientific thought functions, and because of his emphasis on the social aspect of scientific work he seems to be a lot more radical than he really is. Feyerabend is responding more specifically to certain strands of the philosophy of science, and is less concerned with scientists as much as he is concerned with scientism. And, given his early work, it always struck me that his concern was born out of a kind of self-criticism. But he is really focused on thinking about science, and less about the sociology of science.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.3k
    Newtonian mechanics were not overturned by general relativity, nor are they threatened by any possible quantum revelation (because it won't stop being useful). General relativity provides additional precision to the Newtonian model (in a way, proving the rule by solving the exceptions), right? Presumably, Newton's laws (and GR) should emerge naturally from the correct quantum model (though we may possibly face insurmountable issues of scope, scale, magnitude, and complexity in trying to calculate or establish a connection).

    I guess Feyerabend was right that there is no single exception proof method to follow which will always yield scientific truth, but perhaps this is because to access the information contained at different scales of time, distance, and complexity, we must develop fundamentally different scientific and empirical approaches at the outset? (e.g: cognitive science approaches vs astronomy approaches vs engineering approaches vs medical science vs computer science vs mathematics vs archeology/history vs chemistry vs evolutionary biology vs any number of fields within physics...). Not only do the physical steps we follow to initiate discovery change from field to field, but sometimes the guiding epistemic principles themselves change (e.g: physical sciences are able to rely on prediction-testing while the more human scientific fields, such as statistics, archeology, and computer science, tend to rely on corroboration and agreement with previously established facts as a gold standard). In some cases, such has human behavioral science, discovery can come from something so basic as "black-box testing", where all we care about is the relationship between output and previous input).

    It's interesting he should say there is no "useful" exception free definition that universally applies, because utility or usefulness (toward scientific discovery) is exactly what the proponents of each scientific field or school use to guide the development of their own methodologies. Empirical utility in and of itself seems to be the very metric by which we determine whether or not something is scientific (is it precise? is it robust? Does it give us reliable knowledge?).

    Depending on the object or field of study, any number of extraneous apparatus, previous work, and established protocols might be required to get anywhere empirically, and in another field the established methods might be entirely different. The sort of free-market of ideas and researchers naturally diverge as they more successfully adapt to their empirical niche. There's a world of variation out there, and it requires varied approaches to decipher it all...
  • Inis
    243
    That is to say it is logically impossible for Popper's criterion of demarcation to be false? Or do you mean to say that because it plays a prescriptive role it does not make sense to say his criterion is true or false? Or what?Moliere

    It is a matter of judgement whether a statement is falsifiable or not. Some people think Freudian psychoanalysis is non-falsifiable, others disagree.

    Despite what is claimed for the principle of demarcation, and I am as guilty as anyone, it is not really about deciding what is science and what is not. Such questions can be left to the institutions. Rather, in Popper's words, it is to solve,

    ...an urgent practical problem: under what conditions is a critical appeal to experience possible - one that could bear some fruit?
    (Realism and the Aim of Science, 1983)

    So really it is about what sort of statements are amenable to empirical investigation. These are the falsifiable statements.

    And I think it logically impossible for true ideas to be false.
  • Inis
    243
    Peirce's favorite example was Kepler's series of hypotheses regarding the orbit of Mars. After only a few unsuccessful conjectures, he tried an ellipse, which not only fit the data that he had from previous observations, but also led to predictions that were subsequently corroborated by further observations.aletheist

    Well, trial and error can certainly work when trying to figure out the shape of orbits, but lets have a more recent example.

    You are doubtless aware that the orbit of Uranus did not seem to agree with Newton's law of gravitation, so we have:

    C=Anomalous orbit of Uranus.
    A=Neptune is retrodicted to exist, which would make C "unsurprising".
    Therefore we have "reason" to believe "Neptune exists" is true.

    Is that a fair representation of Pierce's method?
  • fdrake
    1.9k
    At length a conjecture arises that furnishes a possible Explanation, by which I mean a syllogism exhibiting the surprising fact as necessarily consequent upon the circumstances of its occurrence together with the truth of the credible conjecture, as premisses. On account of this Explanation, the inquirer is led to regard his conjecture, or hypothesis, with favor. As I phrase it, he provisionally holds it to be "Plausible."aletheist

    I imagine this 'necessarily consequent upon the circumstances of its occurence together with the truth of the credible conjecture, as premises" might work quite well for engineering or physics, but it doesn't precisely characterise the generation of credible conjecture in statistical applications. Rather, 'plausibility' looks more like high conditional probability, so instead of following with necessity it follows from high (subjective) probability as determined by competence and intuition of the researchers involved and of the complexity of the issues involved in the interpretation of C.
  • aletheist
    984
    Is that a fair representation of Pierce's method?Inis
    Yes, the hypothesis that Neptune exists (A) would make the surprising anomalies in the orbit of Uranus (C) a matter of course; therefore, we have reason to suspect that Neptune exists.

    Rather, 'plausibility' looks more like high conditional probability ...fdrake
    Immediately after what I quoted previously, Peirce added that "this acceptance ranges in different cases--and reasonably so--from a mere expression of it in the interrogative mood, as a question meriting attention and reply, up through all appraisals of Plausibility, to uncontrollable inclination to believe."
  • Inis
    243
    Yes, the hypothesis that Neptune exists (A) would make the surprising anomalies in the orbit of Uranus (C) a matter of course; therefore, we have reason to suspect that Neptune exists.aletheist

    And by the same logic, we have reason to believe the statement "Vulcan exists", is true?
  • fdrake
    1.9k
    Immediately after what I quoted previously, Peirce added that "this acceptance ranges in different cases--and reasonably so--from a mere expression of it in the interrogative mood, as a question meriting attention and reply, up through all appraisals of Plausibility, to uncontrollable inclination to believe."aletheist

    Yeah fair enough then.
  • aletheist
    984
    And by the same logic, we have reason to believe the statement "Vulcan exists", is true?Inis
    What is the observed surprising fact that would be a matter of course if Vulcan exists?
  • Inis
    243
    What is the observed surprising fact that would be a matter of course if Vulcan exists?aletheist

    The anomalous orbit of Uranus/Mercury becomes normal when the statement "Neptune/Vulcan exists" is true, which gives us the good reason to believe that "Neptune/Vulcan exists" is true.

    Except Vulcan doesn't exist.
  • aletheist
    984
    The anomalous orbit of Uranus/Mercury becomes normal when the statement "Neptune/Vulcan exists" is true, which gives us the good reason to believe that "Neptune/Vulcan exists" is true.Inis
    The existence of Neptune/Vulcan was a valid retroduction--a plausible explanatory hypothesis for the observed (and surprising) anomalies in Uranus's/Mercury's orbit--but again, that is only the first step in any scientific inquiry. The second step was deduction, deriving other necessary consequences of the hypothesis. The third step was induction, making additional observations to ascertain whether those predictions were corroborated or falsified. In the case of Neptune, they were corroborated (repeatedly). In the case of Vulcan, they were falsified, resulting in abandonment of that particular hypothesis.
  • Inis
    243
    The existence of Neptune/Vulcan was a valid retroduction--a plausible explanatory hypothesis for the observed (and surprising) anomalies in Uranus's/Mercury's orbit--but again, that is only the first step in any scientific inquiry. The second step was deduction, deriving other necessary consequences of the hypothesis. The third step was induction, making additional observations to ascertain whether those predictions were corroborated or falsified. In the case of Neptune, they were corroborated (repeatedly). In the case of Vulcan, they were falsified, resulting in abandonment of that particular hypothesis.aletheist

    Lets get this straight:

    1. You retrodict Neptune/Vulcan.
    2. You deduce consequences from the retrodiction.
    3. You induce corroborations or falsification.

    OK. So, given that we have an induced corroboration and falsification of the deduced consequences of of a retrodicted hypothesis in the attempt to justify a theory. What do we do next?
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