I used to think that what mattered most about a theory was its predictive power. I used to think that the reason that Einstein’s theory was superior to Newton’s was that it could predict everything Newton’s could plus more things. I was mistaken. The reason why Einstein’s theory is better is that it has more explanatory power. The fact that Einstein’s theory can indeed predict more is secondary.
The view I used to hold is called instrumentalism because it claims that a scientific theory is merely an instrument for making predictions. In this short post, I want to attempt to…
An excerpt from In Search For A Better World By Karl Popper. Plus some clarifications from last post.
Excerpt (bold emphasis mine),
We seek out criticisms to our guess and look for methods to falsify it. If we falsify the guess then we guess something different and repeat. If we fail to falsify the guess, we accept it but only tentatively.
Correction by Elliot Temple,
In CR, the term “falsify” commonly refers to *empirical* refutation only. To avoid ambiguity and miscommunication, it’s best to avoid the term (alone) entirely, and use “empirically falsify”. And use something else like “criticize” or “refute” to speak generically.
According to Popper, we can disprove a theory but never fully prove it.
I would guess that most people would subscribe to the following method of how knowledge works.
-First, we observe a pattern -> Then we generate a hypothesis based on said pattern > Test it > Accept it or Reject it.
Incidentally, Neil DeGrasse Tyson Tweeted recently something quite akin to this. This is a common misconception. (I have respect for Tyson I just think he is mistaken about epistemology.)
Knowledge does not start from unprejudiced pure observation, there is no such thing. Popper said all observations are theory-laden. To illustrate this idea consider someone telling you to “Observe.” Naturally, your…
I will be writing about Critical Rationalism. The goal of this little project will be to explain my understanding of CR in order to generate feedback and criticisms which will help me weed out errors and find areas where further review is necessary.
CR, in essence, is the philosophy of problem-solving by seeking good explanations and error correction via criticism. I will expand on what a good explanation is and what constitutes criticism on a later post.
I first became aware of CR because of a friend who recommended “the best book he has ever read” The Beginning of Infinity…