Brad reads Popper
December 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’m finding important contrasts between The Logic of Scientific Discovery and my fourth-hand preconceptions of the book. Popper differentiates between four kinds of tests:
- “the logical comparison of the conclusions among themselves, by which the internal consistency of the system is tested”
- “the investigation of the logical form of the theory, with the object of determining whether it has the character of an empirical or scientific theory”
- “the comparison with other theories, chiefly with the aim of determining whether the theory would constitute a scientific advance should it survive our various tests”
- “the testing of the theory by way of empirical applications of the conclusions which can be derived from it”
The demarcation problem — “finding a critierion which would enable us to distinguish between the empirical sciences on the one hand, and mathematics and logic as well as ‘metaphysical’ systems on the other” — is something I think about a lot. I hadn’t previously connected this to the induction problem, and will have to think about whether accepting a convention for demarcation lets us build science without induction.
Popper says that scientific statements are objective in the sense that they can be criticised “inter-subjectively”. In practice this seems to mean that other scientists can test the statements. This means “there can be no ultimate statements in science”, which I am satisfied with.