"Regarding the status of falsificationism see Imre Lakatos, Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes (CUP, 1980). See also, Larry Lauden's article in But is it Science? (Michael Ruse ed., 1988)."
If a *theory* can't be falsified, even hypothetically, than ANY observation can be made to fit the *theory*. The theory is useless. BTW, why couldn't you provide some reasoning as to why falsification is no longer necessary for a scientific theory? At least a summary of the above works?
"Which is more likely: that the rabbit found in what we thought was a Precambrian stratum is actually Precambrian, or that the stratum is not actually Precambrian, or that there was some anomaly that allowed this rabbit (which lived long after the Precambrian era) to become embedded in this Precambrian stratum? A certain view of evolutionary history (or certain proposed phylogenies and taxonomies) might be falsified in this manner, but not evolutionary theory per se."
If you could determine the correct age of the strata, then a huge blow would be made to evolutionary theory. And if you found a couple of more such problem fossils, then the theory would be rightly scrapped. Luckily, nothing of the sort has happened.
posted on 12/03/2005 9:34:40 AM PST
("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
If a *theory* can't be falsified, even hypothetically, than ANY observation can be made to fit the *theory*.
This is Quine's and Kuhn's point. But some theories provide a better explanation of the observations than do others. Many scientific hypotheses are abandonded not because they are falsified, but because a better hypothesis shows up. Sometimes the fit between a theory and the observation is so poor that the theory is essentially falsified; those are the sorts of theory that are said to have been falsified and/or are falsifiable. But for others, the losing theory or theories are not falsified, just out-performed. And in some cases, there is no clear winner.
Think of the historical sciences for example. They often do not generate testable predictions that allow decisive falsification; they may generate only expectations based on hypothetical determinations of results (i.e. what we would expect to find) given known rules and the particular case posited by the theory. In that situation theories compete abductively, not by deductive falsification via modus tollens.
posted on 12/03/2005 10:14:03 AM PST
("There is no greater evil one can suffer than to hate reasonable discourse." - Plato, Phaedo 89d)
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