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What is Philosophy
What is Philosophy
of Science
What is Verification
and Falsification
Opinions
about Science
Science according to
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Scientific method
Paradigm and
paradigm shift
Karl Popper -
Logic and status
Consequences of Popper's theses
Alternative Science
Chalmers: What is this
thing called Science?
Epistemology -
induction deduction
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Verification and falsification

In science conclusions are based on observations, or on previous hypotheses that are also based on observations.

Sometimes also a hypothesis, e.g. an attempt to generalize the result or formulate a cause for the observation, is proposed. The hypothesis, or consequences from the hypothesis, may become additionally verified or falsified by additional observations.

Details about verification and falsification

A verification of a hypothesis implies that an observation, or another verified hypothesis, is in accordance with the hypothesis.

A falsification of a hypothesis implies that an observation, or another verified hypothesis, opposes the hypothesis. A falsification hence implies that an observation or another verified hypothesis verifies the negation of the hypothesis.

A verification of a hypothesis increases our belief in the hypothesis. A falsification of a hypothesis decreases our belief in the hypothesis.

A special importance of falsification has been claimed within philosophy of science. I have, however, not been able to find a strict definition of the term in this context. In order to clarify the discussion it is given below:

 

Definition of the term falsification

According to vetenskapsteori.se, the term "falsification" can be defined as:

 

Falsification implies a verification
of the negation of a hypothesis

 

 

More about verification and falsification

A negation is a logical operator. Hence there is no fundamental epistemological difference between verification and falsification:

 

To falsify a hypothesis is equivalent to
verify the negation of the hypothesis

 

Both verification and falsification are based on observations and cannot be used in claims that a hypothesis is eternally "true" or "false". This is further discussed under Epistemology, part induction.


An example

There is no logical difference between verification and falsification:

"All ravens are black" is a statement that is

• theoretically possible, but hard in reality, to verify.
• possible to falsify.

"Not all ravens are black" is a statement that is

• possible to verify.
• theoretically possible, but hard in reality, to falsify.

The example demonstrates that verification and falsification are fundamental identical activities. In order to verify, alternatively falsify, any of the two statements, all ravens should be inspected, or we must find one non-black raven.

Additional examples

Statements corresponding to "Life exists on other planets" or "Hitler was a pedophile" can be verified using only a few observations, but require a method similar to induction to be falsified.

 
 

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