Making theoretical progress (Kuhn (Paradigm: set of common views of what…
Making theoretical progress
Process of theoretical advancement
Deduction (hypothesis testing) V Induction (exploration)
What makes a science?
The Vienna Circle
: group of philosophers, logical positivism :recycle: Observation, Induction &
interact = the demarcation of science
logical positivism: the key is Verification: scientific theory/statement may be verified or falsified through observation & induction
Induction problem: exceptions to the rule, logically impossible
Some facts are unobservable (
until more recently, unable to observe atoms - does that mean that physics was not a science until these were observable?
Our observations can be inaccurate and bias (optical illusions, Asch's A & B categorisation bias line task) - wrong/ subjective
Can theories ever be proven?
only supported/ 'proven likely'
works for Physics
Physics is a science
work for psychoanalysis: theories are to abstract/ flexible
a science/ is a pseudoscience
Scientific statement = one which can be proven untrue
theoretical testing based on ability or inability to falsify it. If no exceptions to the rule can be found after multiple systematic tests, the theory is 'proven'
"It never rains on Wednesday" = science, "If he'd lived, Kennedy would have ended the Vietnam war" = not science
Member of the Vienna Circle
Believed that science does and should constantly question itself - a continuous evolution
Scientific progress is achieved using inductive and deductive reasoning
"Degrees of falsification"
: refers to the level of specificity of the hypothesis/ theory: high specificity means it is more easy to systematically test and
, hence is more scientific!
: wine, beer & milk turn sour: hypothesis: this is due to organisms from the air. Test (falsify): filter to stop air reaching liquids.
higher degree of falsification: specification of bacteria in the air rather than just 'organisms'
Science as a process of trial & error: no guarantee of correctness, issues with inductive reasoning etc
early/premature abandonment of theory may limit progress.
Newton's laws of physics, Uranus and discovery of Neptune.
must mean adaptation of theory rather than disqualification of theory - perseverance!
ad hoc Modification: changes which lessen falsifiability: fingerprints
too vague: what is a severe trouble spot? how long should scientists persevere with a theory before a crisis/ revolution? why might sheer length of time investigating improve falsification/identification of limitations?
What makes a good theory?
Choosing a theory
Parsimony: Occam's Razor
Falsifiability: increase content, information/specificity. When replacing a false theory, the new theory should be more falsifiable.
Precision: specificity and falsifiability, an operational definition
Fruitfulness: possibility/ potential for new evidence/ knowledge
Scope: wide-ranging claims, large impact
Why can/does it take so long for scientific progress? Because falsification is counter-intuitive and we have a confirmation bias:
: Wason selection task, only 10% correct. Also publication bias.
'Middle ground': Objective, grounded in reality, couple ideas and observations using verification and falsification.
Trial & error
Don't ignore all converging evidence in light of diverging evidence
Falsification should be a long process with multiple systematic tests.
physicist: believed science to be a social activity
new normal science
: set of common views of what the discipline is and how it should be investigated
observations and scrutiny
key questions & their structure
interpretation of results
conduction of experiments
Pre-science? = Unorganised facts, observations explaining small scale phenomena
Normal science? = researchers shared paradigm, falsifications and modifications
Revolution? = losing confidence in paradigm, crisis, paradigm shift
shift from geocentric theory to heliocentric
: paradigms everchanging/ adapting, periodic crisis, revolution is progress, knowledge dependent on time, scientists are 'puzzle-solving'