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What is This Thing Called “Science” (Part 2)

Recap: In the last blog, we introduced the main question of, “What is this thing called science.” We wanted to delve deep into the concepts of what defines science, so we first talked about epistemic relativism. We then visited the debate of Galileo and Bellarmine, who had different standards of evaluations.

In this blog, we will discover the importance yet also the impurities of Poppers inductivist theorem. This theorem will try to differentiate real science from pseudo-science using falsification or Popper's inductive theorem. To comment on the structure of the theorem we first have to learn how it works. The reasoning for this theorem is based upon conjectures and refutes. Popper’s inductivist theorem works as a regular inductivist theorem would. If one hypothesis cannot be proven wrong then the theorem must be right (basically falsification).

-But why did Popper choose to create his own method, instead of following the norms of proving scientific theories? Let’s use our own example. The Tooth Fairy is quite a common belief for young children and a tradition. When you lose a tooth when you were a kid, there must have been some amount of money under your pillow. So, you would have concluded that the tooth fairy must have existed since there is money under the pillow. At the time, you may have been happy with the answer, yet as you grew older you started to disbelieve the theory. This time, instead of trying to prove its existence you wanted to prove that it doesn’t exist. So, you stay up all night and catch your mom or dad in the act of shoving money under your pillow while taking your final baby tooth. In theory, this method should work. If something is not wrong then it should be correct. Yet science isn’t so simple to agree to those terms.

-The Duhem-Quine thesis proves that one cannot conclude a hypothesis just because there is no evidence to prove it wrong. In a hypothesis, there are different theories and hypotheses choices so some observational evidence won’t simply suffice to prove all the choices are correct. This concludes that Popper’s reasoning behind his inductivist theorem isn’t valid. There had to be a solution to the problem of the underdetermination of theory by evidence. Thomas Kuhn, an American philosopher, devised a proposal to this problem. He proposed, “Scientific change takes the form of a shift between two incommensurable scientific paradigms, and raises issues about the rationality of theory choice.” What Kuhn is trying to say is that scientific knowledge does not slowly increment, yet it occurs in scientific revolutions or sudden paradigms, otherwise known as paradigm shifts.

In the next blog of this series, we will explore the vast concept of paradigm shifts and how it changed the course of philosophy.

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