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Will a falsified hypothesis become non-scientific?

 
 

 

Return to "Karl Popper - in reality"

 

 
 

That Lord of the Rings, human creation through divine intervention or Astrology should represent scientific hypotheses is of course absurd. The conclusion is:

• Popper's theses are absurd

• a scientific hypothesis according to Popper should be regarded as non-scientific if it is falsified

The later alternative has been proposed as an attempt to save Popper's theses, see e.g.
Chalmers - What is this thing called Science? p.74.

In order to understand whether this modification is logically possible, we must remind ourselves of the background to the theses:

Hypothesis test

When we have performed observations, and from these want to create a hypothesis, is is since the Greek antiquity well known that the observations may be explained by several different hypotheses. As an example one may always, as an alternative to experimentally based hypotheses, always propose the hypothesis that the observations was caused by magical forces.

Hypothesis test using verification and falsification

After a hypothesis is proposed, it is common to investigate if additional observations may verify or falsify the hypothesis. One may also deduce the consequences of the hypothesis and try to verify or falsify them, which indicates if the hypothesis is in accordance with our experienced reality or if it has to be modified or rejected.

A verification increases the confidence in the hypothesis and a falsification decreases it.

Hypothesis test using only falsification

Karl Popper tried, using the argument that verification cannot give "absolutely certain knowledge", to launch the old idea that falsification (modus tollens: e.g. Robert Grosseteste ~1168–1253) could provide a deductive criterion to decide about which possible hypothesis was the most interesting.

Popper, however, missed that falsification is identical to verification of a negation: Both involves verification and none of the two methods leads to "absolutely certain knowledge".

Change status after verification or falsification?

Popper claimed that his theses was about deductive hypothesis testing based on the logical structure of the hypothesis, i.e. before the hypothesis was additionally verified or falsified (where Popper instead of "additionally" claimed "at all").

When "sophisticated" popperians want to claim that the status of the hypothesis, based on analysis regarding it's falsifiability, should be possible to change based on how observations turn out, they admit that the theses about deductive testing has collapsed. This can be expressed as that Popper said:

  I have no idea about if a hypothesis represent science or not - I will wait and see until the hypothesis or it's consequences have been verified or falsified enough, before I claim anything.

Such a statement represents a skeptical view that is signifying the "scientific method".

 

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