Monday, January 1, 2018

Summary: Chapter 5-7 in What Is This Thing Called Science? / Alan Chalmers

What Is This Thing Called Science? / Alan Chalmers
Chapter 5-7

Chapter 5: Introducing falsification

-          Falsification is logical
-          A hypothesis must be falsifiable
-          A falsified theory must be rejected
-          Science progresses by trial and error
-          Theories should be clearly stated, precise and informative
-          Theories are never true, although they can be superior to predecessors that have been falsified
-          Science starts with problems that arise from observations

Chapter 6: Sophisticated falsification

-          Hypothesis must be more falsifiable than the one it replaces
-          Number of potential falsifiers is infinite
-          Theory is falsified if another theory:
o   Has more empirical content over old theory
o   Includes unrefuted content of old theory
o   New content is supported by empirical and observation
-          Ad hoc modifications are unacceptable as it only reduces the number of potential falsifiers
-          Modified theories that lead to new independently testable tests
-          Significant advances will be marked by
o   Confirmation (verification) of bold conjectures as such conjectures can falsify, some part, of the background knowledge
o   Falsification of cautious conjectures
-          Bold and novel are historically relative notions

Chapter 7: Limitations of falsification

-          Inconsistency: evidence/observation may be at fault rather than the theory itself à no ground to reject theory
-          Realistic scientific theory consists of:
o   Auxiliary assumptions
o   Initial conditions
-          Durkheim/Quine thesis: if the prediction is false, then it is either the theory, the auxiliary assumptions or the initial conditions that are responsible for the erroneous prediction
-          Theory can be protected from falsification by deflecting it to some other part of the web of assumptions
-          Falsification encourages bold statements
-          Need for dogmatism: do not reject theories too easily/ give into criticisms
-          What is left of falsificationism once dogmatism is allowed a key role?

Other notes

-          Knowledge = a conjecture/statements that are falsifiable and have not been falsified yet
-          To falsify is to ask the question: can I think of an event that would falsify my theory?

Back to:  What Is This Thing Called Science? / Alan Chalmers
additional summaries in  philosophy of science

Some books about philosophy of science to consider: