Skip to main content

Back to Popper

Image result for pseudoscience watch

A 2013 anthology, PHILOSOPHY OF PSEUDOSCIENCE, contends that Karl Popper was in essence right on his crucial contentions over falsifiability and science.

Here's a link. 

Specifically, Popper contended first that it is important (as a task within the broad domain of epistemology) for philosophers to distinguish between what is science and what isn't; second that what is science must be in principle falsifiable; third that the falsifiability is linked to the good reasons why sciences are prestigious activities -- the reasons why the word 'science' is worth co-opting.

Those views have gone out of fashion, for a lot of reasons. Susan Haack, for example, argues that the "demarcation problem" is of little significance. Philosophers should stop arguing over what deserves the label "science," in part because she believes falsifiability is also good as a rough guide to valuable thought in a lot of fields of scholarship one wouldn't want to put on the "science" side of such a line.

That is precisely the contemporary suspicion that it is the point of this book to counter. The authors agree that science is not all of knowledge, but it is a very important human project, and its prestige is earned. Thus, demarcating science from non-science, and especially from non-science pretending to be science, is an important endeavor. Further, though Popper was himself open to critique in detail, there is as one of the authors represented here puts it "something profoundly right about the contrasts he sets up...."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…