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Falsification or comparison, which is more suitable?

 
 
coberst
 
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 02:56 am
Falsification or comparison, which is more suitable?

Karl Popper’s theory of criticism is that a theory can be falsified if it does not conform to the facts. I argue that this mode of criticism is satisfactory for some domains of knowledge but not for others.

Popper’s theory of criticism is adequate in matters of the natural sciences wherein knowledge deals only with monological and not multilogical concerns. Physics is a normal science, as defined by Thomas Kuhn, and a normal science is one in which the paradigm defines the boundaries and logic of the particular domain of knowledge under consideration.

An example might be the development of the atomic bomb. The scientists working on the bomb were confined strictly to the logic of physics; they did not, perhaps could not, accomplish their task if they were to consider matters of morality.

“Since social and political theories are unavoidably selective, partial and culturally conditioned, the only way to improve them is to force them to explain themselves, to articulate and justify their assumptions and choice of concepts, to defend their interpretations of facts and show why other interpretations are mistaken.”

Theories of physics are determined to be true or false by physical measurements: by weighing and/or measuring. Theories in the human sciences must be defended by narrative. The defense of Darwin’s theory of natural selection is such an example.

“Facts destroy a social or political theory not so much by falsifying it as by undermining its integrity and credibility, by making it incoherent…What one needs, therefore is not a boxing match…and the victory goes to the one who deals a knock-out blow…but a sympathetic and imaginative dialogue in which each contestant tries to learn from the rest.”

Social and political knowledge grows as a result of both criticism and sympathetic imagination through dialogical reasoning; thereby incorporating insight from an ever more sophisticated and broadening vision.

Quotes from Knowledge and Belief in Politics edited by Robert Benewick, R.N. Berki, and Bhikhu Parekh



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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 03:59 am
@coberst,
Has it not occurred to you that only an unsophisticated dabbler, having already posted on the deconstruction of "objectivity" might think this thread constituted a different position. So either you do realize that in which case your mission is to bore us to death, or you don't, in which case you lack the sophistication you claim.

For your information "fact" comes from the latin "facare" to construct or make.
Ergo "facts" are etymologically not "objective". We've been there on the threads of others you discourteously ignore.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 05:12 am
@coberst,
Quote:
What one needs, therefore is not a boxing match…and the victory goes to the one who deals a knock-out blow…but a sympathetic and imaginative dialogue in which each contestant tries to learn from the rest.”



Unfortunately the process of scientific advancement has included a lengthy period of knock down drag out fighting among the parties involved. I can remember when, as an undergraduate student, the old heads of geology were arguing the validity of "New Global TEctonics" which later became known as the theory of plate tectonics.

As the evidence piled up in favor of plate tectonics, several researchers at Ivy League geology departments were critical and dissmissive of the new theory. Then three scientists proposed to test the new theory by making several predictions based upon falsification.The tests involved making predictions that would only be true IF plate tectonics was falsified.
What followed (in 1970) was an extended period of time as the "falsification prediction" was discussed and the dta was analyzed. Several other predictions were made that USED the toolkit of information that global tectonics provided. Then a coup de gras was presented to the Ivy LEague scientist who was most critical. The several proponents of continental drift compared the same data that the Ivy Leaguer was leaning on , and presented it in light of both Continental Derift and the previous theory (which involved accumulation of sediments in "Geosynclines").

The Ivy Leaguer then accepted the reality of Continental Derift and promptly retired with a statement in which he said that he was "too old" to make a 180 in the way he did his research.

In this case, Falsification was used both in a Predictive and a standard approach , AND a comparison between both means of interpretation was developed to cementthe argument .So its usually never an "either or" in many sciences.

Most times scientific dicovery invokes some mighty disagreements among the parties involved.The hardest thing to do is to develop a new paradigm and then just apply it as if nothing happened. Whenever eartj shaking discoveries are made, there usually resides some researcher on the other side whose entire career has been underpinned by the paradigm being deposed.

I have no opinion about whether Poppers method should or should not be invoked in social sciences. Im n ot sure that Theorems in social sciences are even quantifiable , let alone be falsifiable.

Just a thought.

0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 05:39 am
@coberst,
Quote:
Theories in the human sciences must be defended by narrative. The defense of Darwin’s theory of natural selection is such an example
ACtually , nat selection is falsified all the time. The recent discovery of a fossil that was an intermediate between a fish and a tetrapod was such an isue. The scientists , who made the discovery stated that, if the "intermediate fossil even existed" it should be located in sedimenst of a specific age and specific type. SO these reearchers went about looking a world geology maps and old regional geology texts and came up with an unlikely location, namely ELlesmere Island in the Nunivit Nation. They searched the sediments for three years until they lucked onto a complete fossil of a fish with a flat head and a neck that allowed the head to turn, and the fish had hands.

This fossil underpins natural election nicely because the fossil fits in the cladistics of the development of Eusthenopteron (a fish with finger bones) to Acanthostega (an amphibian with some left over ancient features). The Tiiktalik fossil fit in between the above two end members.
Popper discussed the use of falsification in natural selection . He referred to Duhems thesis of "auxilliary propositions" where the actual falsifiability occurs , not from the theory, but from the support sciences. AND the falsifiability occurs during testing of a hypothesis (Testing is obviously a means of comparison) so your statement has a level of utility in science as well.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 05:42 am
@farmerman,
Quote:
To develop an account of testability we must begin by recognizing that testing is typically a comparative enterprise. The item being tested must be tested AGAINST one or more of the competing hypotheses
Eliot SOber
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 06:45 am
@farmerman,
Alas, you are unlikely to get a response from coberst on this.

Your point about Popper and "the Social Sciences" is illustrated historically by (a) Popper using Freud and Marx to illustrate "non-science" because they failed his "falsifiability in principle" criterion. However (b) I believe Popper was later obliged to modify his views in an attempt to accommodate QM and its statistical basis. Khun, on the other hand kicked against Popper's realism towards a relativistic epistemology of "the paradigm" (together with its degree of tolerance of "the counter-example) which had more in keeping with Wittgenstein's "meaning is use" adage, than it did with the views of Wittgenstein's antagonist Popper.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 07:39 am
@fresco,
Im sure that there was something valuable in that fresco. However, how bout bringing it down to my level. N'Ya Yevyim?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 08:15 am
@farmerman,
How about for Popper, the "social sciences" were not "sciences" perhaps because his traditional "logic" assumed an objective reality. QM raised the issue of subject-object interdependence even for physics and promoted the concept of "statistical relationships" versus "universal laws". thereby delimiting the falsifiability principle as a criterion for usage of the term "science". Khun would argue that "science" is simply what "scientists do" (a la Wittgenstein).
Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 01:22 pm
@coberst,
Quote:
Theories of physics are determined to be true or false by physical measurements: by weighing and/or measuring. Theories in the human sciences must be defended by narrative.


Which is not to say that theories in the human sciences are free from the obligation of citing data and evidence. Just because the criteria of validity in science are not directly mappable onto those of the humanities doesn't mean that theories of humanities need not be tested against evidence. Besides, any theory of human science that cites only imaginary agents (like "frontier families"), metaphorical agents (like "matadors"), or agents whose thoughts can only be speculated (like infants or animals) is not a theory of any actual human at all. Consequently, you can always tell when the author of such a theory is aware of his theory's obtuseness: when he actively resists giving real-life examples.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 03:21 pm
@fresco,
Thank you, that was a marvelous explanation. I understand now.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 10:03 am
@fresco,
I see what you mean about coberst. Kind of creepy and a bit like a "Phrase bot". Does a coberst really exist??
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 10:31 am
@farmerman,
Try googling "coberst" +any significant word from his erruption of thread titles.

Here's his "mission" statement from 2005

Quote:
Our educational institutions are controlled by those who do not find it to be in their interest to have intellectually sophisticated citizens and thus we cannot depend upon our educational institutions for a solution to our problem.

The solution can happen only when a significant percentage of our citizens become self-actualizing self-learners. I post in an effort to further that possibility by introducing new ideas to our citizens. I hope to arouse the critical capacity of our citizens to the point that they turn to the books and become self-actualizing self-learners too.

Our educational system is designed to graduate good producers and consumers. Our system does not wish to produce critical thinking citizens. Our task, those of us who comprehend this, is to convince our fellows to begin their intellectual life after their schools daze are over. Think of it this way, our schooling is for the purpose of getting a job and our intellectual life is for the purpose of helping us understanding the meaning of our life and to prevent us from destroying our self in the process.

Those of us who comprehend this matter have a responsibility to do what we can to convince others to get an intellectual life. It is time to stop the talk and start the walk.


And here's a typical complaint from one of his three dozen target forums 2009

Quote:
Quote:
I am a Critical Thinker not just a thinker. Thinkers are a "dime-a-dozen".

Coberst you are not a critical thinker. You read and you read and you read. You absorb information by the bucket load, but you then regurgitate it and pretend it is somehow the product of your critical thought process.

farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 05:10 pm
@fresco,
Hmmm. I always thought that coberst was "sampling" the waters in philosophical frontiers. So this was only the second thread of his that I posted to. We used to have another poster, an Evangelical Minister Hollis Ray Mathis I believe. I got suckered into posting on one of his masturbatory threads and was kind of hacked off that he merely started a thread and then took off . (Sort of like coberst does).

Too bad, always learn alot from having my own posts chewed up and critiqued . I have no great pride in authorship(hell just behold my spelling errors).



.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 05:39 pm
@farmerman,
Yes ! We have the secular Hollis Ray Mathis ! Laughing
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 11:42 pm
@fresco,
Two days and no coberst. So he does post and run. I noticed today as I entered his opening phrase into Google, he apparently cobbled it together from existing material, adsded some pf his own and then posted it to about 3 other boards. Wow, thats Hollis' MO . Too bad,
0 Replies
 
 

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