Sir Karl Popper's Falsifiability Claim

Length: 765 words (2.2 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document

Sir Karl Popper's Falsifiability Claim

Popper's claim that "the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability" (Klemke, 1988) may be viewed as an observation of, rather than a complete departure from, earlier criteria for science. Klemke states in his introduction to part one (p. 16) that defining science (or the scientific method) has traditionally consisted of utilizing seven criteria that must be met in a specific order. Criteria number (5) and (6) refer to deduction rather than induction, and will negate criterion (4) if not met. Specifically, if one is unable to "deduce other statements from these", or one is unable to "verify those statements by further observations", it is not science. Therefore, the difference between Popper's claim and earlier theories of what constitutes science may be in definition.

Popper himself states (Klemke, 1988, p.27) that observations are interpretations relative to the theory one wishes to support (or refute). One must define one's terms so that the theory itself is clear and open to rebuttal or verification. Perhaps the conflict between the earlier criteria for science and Popper's criterion is one of clarity, not theory.

Although traditional theory on what science consists of is viewed as inductive, it appears that at least some of the criteria are, in fact, deductive. Criterion (5) explicitly refers to deduction, and criterion (6) refers to verification of said deduction(s). It would seem that Popper's conflict with accepted theory may be relative to traditional criteria (1)- "making observations as accurate and definite as possible." If one approaches the criteria for science previously regarded to be inductive as deductive (since it is not science without all seven criteria being met), perhaps Popper's own claim (that in order to be scientific a claim must be falsifiable) is a test of the previous theory.

Accordingly, if one approaches Popper's claim as an attempt to falsify the previous theory of the criteria for science, one may address his theory somewhat differently. In Popper's own words (Klemke, p.27), " ... we may reject a law or theory on the basis of new evidence without necessarily discarding the old evidence which originally led us to accept it.". Popper rejects induction as the method of science and offers an alternative method - deduction. Using Popper's falsifiability criterion, the common theory of science as inductive has been rebutted. Popper's observation and testing of induction as a criterion for science has suggested a new criterion.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Sir Karl Popper's Falsifiability Claim." 23 Sep 2017
Title Length Color Rating  
Sir Karl Popper's Falsifiability Claim Essay - Sir Karl Popper's Falsifiability Claim Popper asserts that "it is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory--if we look for confirmations." Kuhn illustrates (page 6), in his discussion of cosmologies, that man needs a structure for his universe. Man needs to explain the physical relation between his personal habitat and nature in order to feel at home. Explaining this relation gives meaning to his actions. Moreover, Kuhn says observation is a double edged sword (page 7)....   [tags: Sir Karl Popper Science Theories Essays] 832 words
(2.4 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Karl Popper and Falsifiability Essay - Karl Popper and Falsifiability Karl Popper's claim that "the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability" is a clearly viable statement. This is a natural extension of his idea about how scientific knowledge is increased (Edwards, 1967). In an attempt to define science from pseudo-science, Popper states that the growth of scientific knowledge begins with an "imaginative proposal of hypotheses" (Edwards, 1967). Then, the scientist must search for illustrations or situations that falsify or negate the hypothesis....   [tags: Science Scientific Karl Popper Essays]
:: 7 Works Cited
1346 words
(3.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Popper and Kuhn: Two Views of Science Essay example - Popper and Kuhn: Two Views of Science In this essay I attempt to answer the following two questions: What is Karl Popper’s view of science. Do I feel that Thomas Kuhn makes important points against it. The two articles that I make reference to are "Science: Conjectures and Refutations" by Karl Popper and "Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Research?" by Thomas Kuhn. In the article, "Science: Conjectures and Refutations", Karl Popper attempts to describe the criteria that a theory must meet for it to be considered scientific....   [tags: Science Scientific Essays Popper Kuhn] 1441 words
(4.1 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Hellenistic and Hellenic Interpretation of Popper Essay - Hellenistic and Hellenic Interpretation of Popper Sir Karl Popper states in his treatise "Philosophy of Science: a Personal Report" asserts that "the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability" (Popper 23). He claims that a 'good' scientific theory must meet a single requirement: its capability of being tested. In other words, a good theory predicts future observations, and the accuracy of the prediction supports or refutes it. If a theory can't be tested then it isn't scientific....   [tags: Scientific Theories Science Essays] 2385 words
(6.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Principles of Scientific Thinking Essay - ... Secondly, if a claim is supported by persuasive evidences, it should be falsifiable as well. At least in theory there is an observation method even if no observation is actually made, to indicate this claim is not always real. Applying to evolution, umerous examples of potential (indirect) ways to falsify common descent have been proposed by its proponents. J.B.S. Haldane, when asked what hypothetical evidence could disprove evolution, replied "fossil rabbits in the Precambrian era".[20] Richard Dawkins adds that any other modern animal, such as a hippo, would suffice..[17][18][19] Prominent figures within the Austrian School of economics Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek were associa...   [tags: falsifiability, replicability, hypothesis] 616 words
(1.8 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Karl Popper's Falsifiability Essay - Karl Popper's Falsifiability Sir Karl Popper's lecture was very thought provoking concerning "where to draw the line." Unlike most people, the validity of the theory was not his concern as much as how that validity is determined. This is an issue that really does not get the attention that it deserves. Popper's claims concerning, "When should a theory be ranked as scientific?" and "Is there a criterion for the scientific character or status of a theory?" seems to be put together in the following summary....   [tags: Scientific Method Science] 978 words
(2.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Conjectures and Refutations by Sir Karl Popper Essay - Conjectures and Refutations by Sir Karl Popper In a broad sense science is a systematic quest for knowledge. With this working definition in mind one can see that many areas of human endeavors could qualify as science. Therefore, Popper attempts to find a point of demarcation between science and psuedo-science. "Is there a criterion for the scientific character or status of theory."(1) The most widely accepted answer to this problem Popper says is induction and empirical method. At this point I find it necessary to define these two terms....   [tags: Science Sir Karl Popper Scientists Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1106 words
(3.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Political Philosophy of Karl Raimund Popper Essay - Karl Raimund popper (1902 to 1994) was an influential philosopher of science, who philosophized about society, in much the same way he philosophized about science-in a critical spirit. His personal experience, as an Austrian Jew in the days of the Nazi Anschluss (meaning "link up" or "annexation" in the German language), provided him a wealth of firsthand experience and insights into the nature of totalitarian governments. At a point in popper's life he was an enthusiast of Marxist socialism, but that enthusiasm was short lived as he soon began to develop a skeptical turn of mind towards Marxist socialism....   [tags: Informative Essay, Anti-Marxist] 1146 words
(3.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Sir Karl Popper Essay - Sir Karl Popper Sir Karl Popper's intent in "Science: Conjectures and Refutations" from Klemke's Philosophy of Science is to fortify distinctions between the classes (and, we suppose, the quality) of intellectual discourse in his era, distinctions which were far less precise then than they are today. Popper's argument, in essence, maintains that a number of scientific theories are pseudoscientific at best, owing to the "anything goes" nature of their power to explain. The broad acceptance of such theories owes much to the satisfaction derived from their proponents in using them to justify a preferred response, whatever the data or observations truly imply....   [tags: Philosophy of Science Klemke Essays] 975 words
(2.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Redefining Science - Scientists and philosophers often times differ and debate on what the definition of science is. Therefore, science has come to hold different meanings for various philosophers including Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn. Karl Popper was a philosopher who made significant contributions to philosophy of science and has convinced a lot of scientists. He was decisive of the inductive techniques used by science and insisted that science is deductive. Popper was furthermore critical of the inexperienced empiricist analysis that we objectively scrutinize the world....   [tags: Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn] 2031 words
(5.8 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]

Related Searches

However, using Popper's standards, all acceptance of theory is tentative only. As such, we need to test falsifiability as the criterion for the demarcation between science and non-science.

It appears that Popper is correct in his analysis, logic demands that something which is not refutable can only be corroborated. Therefore, theories which refer to such concepts ( e.g. the existance of God ) are not scientific. If there is no possibility that the theory can be tested by observation and evaluated for truth, one cannot prove anything. Although Popper makes little of the truth-falsity dichotomy; if something cannot be found to be false neither can it be found to be true, one must accept it on faith alone. As Feigl states in Klemke (p.430), intersubjective testability as a requirement for 'doing science' eliminates knowledge claims that cannot be tested for truth- if something is not testable for truth it is not testable for falsity and is not science. Moreover, although the requirement that something be true is not the same as the requirement that something be empirically testable, what we think of as 'science' implies that when conclusions are reached by testing they are true within the limits of our present understanding.

Popper's falsifiability claim is therefore a necessary condition for science, but is it sufficient? In looking back at the traditional view of what constitutes the criteria for science, one finds both induction and deduction. If we accept Popper's claim and use his own explanation of his observation of the traditional view of science, we may need to add some criteria. Feigl (Klemke p. 431) adds such criterion as "definition and precision" to the requirements. Had the traditional view's criteria been more clearly defined ( as both inductive and deductive), perhaps Popper would be less combative in his approach. Science is a process of clarification. Popper, in making falsifiability the only criterion for science, failed to retain the first criterion of the traditional view- "making observations as accurate and definite as possible". Had he followed his own premise that we need not discard all of the old evidence that led to an incorrect conclusion, he might have added a criterion of precise definition of terms.

Return to