How can falsifiability be the criterion by which scientific data is measured?

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If the planet earth has and continue to evolve how can us mankind stay stagnant.
If the planet earth has and continue to evolve how can us mankind stay stagnant. | Source

Even theories that became laws can have fault in them.

Karl Popper which to most represents a landmark figure in the philosophy of science recognized that scientific theories provide some sort of uncertainties that can be refuted. And it is because of this uncertainty that scientific knowledge rest on the doctrine of falsifiability. Popper proposed that “only those theories that are testable and falsifiable by observation and experiment are properly open to scientific evaluation”. Therefore, any theory that is not refutable is not scientific.

Now according to Popper, the claim that all truths are relative to prior knowledge would be considered an inductive reasoning. According to Wikipedia, the premises of an inductive argument indicate some degree of support (inductive probability) for the conclusion, but do not entail it; i.e. they do not ensure its truth. I can certainly argue that the statement “all truths are relative to prior knowledge” is not base on inductive reasoning.

There are many theories that have proven to have derived from prior knowledge. For example we couldn’t write the word knowledge if we didn’t know the alphabet. We wouldn’t know how an orange came about, if we didn’t know a tree produces it, we couldn’t understand the universal language mathematics if someone didn’t invent it. There are lots of examples of prior knowledge that are adaptive, information that are passed on to us from birth, through genetic molecular structure. That information too is part of our prior knowledge.

However, what the statement all truths are relative to prior knowledge is aiming for is a complete rejection from being considered scientific. As Popper mentioned, “Irrefutably is not a virtue of a theory but a vice”. Which mean if the claim that all truth are relative to prior knowledge does not permit refutation, than this claim is therefore not scientific.

Some have defended Popper by implying that "just because falsifiability was the essential and necessary criteria for what Popper considered science does not mean that Popper thought non-falsifiable things were useless, just that they were not scientific".

According to Popper, for our claim to have been confirmed, it should allow some type of risky prediction. But does it not allow it?

After reading up to this point, can anyone say with the most certainty that they haven't thought of one example which to them can disprove that all truths are relative to prior knowledge. Well, if you have then by Popper’s definition our claim should be granted a ticket to be studied by people of high knowledge for confirmation. If not it can only mean that a theory can be scientific and not allow any form of falsesifiability.

Popper Theory of falsifiability state that a theory is scientific if it contain the possibility of being disproved otherwise it's not scientific. Well, in that sense it is the same as saying that a theory is considered scientific if human development can lead to the possibility of this theory being disproved.

If human evolve technologically the chances are new technological discoveries will enhance the possibility of proven a prior cognition invalid. But the invalidity of that theory is relative to time because it may take 2- 3 hundreds of years before a new discovery disprove a previous theory. Therefore, Every one who lived within the time frame before this theory had been disprove never witness its fallen.

In that sense this theory remain true to them. This theory may seems as a metaphysical because it depends on evolution for its scientific validity, but since the new technological discovery that would have proven this theory to have been falsifiable had not yet been discovered, according to Popper this theory would not have been recognized as being scientific.

According to Popper's theory of falsifiability, it is very likely for Popper to have qualified a theory as being metaphysical instead of scientific for the reason being that at the particular time when the theory had been evaluated it did not show any sign of being falsifiable because there were no new information available to classify it as being scientific until 1 hundred years later. Therefore, Popper's theory of falsifiability is time sensitive.

According to our claim, since no one can truthfully say that all prior knowledge have been rightfully interpreted, even those theories that became laws can have fault that are not yet detectable. So it is because of that reasoning that we can say what is factual today can only be validated by our current interpretation of prior knowledge.

The only way we can be wrong is if there is no case in history where a law have been demoted to a theory because of its inaccuracy. As long as the possibility for error in our current laws exists, no one can say what is true today will remain true with the most certainty.

Well, maybe we should rephrase that because someone can argue if a law has been proven to have mistakes than it wasn’t true to begin with. In that case we have misinterpreted the facts and accepted false knowledge as truth. The confusion here is that any information that is accepted as law possesses every merit to be factual. The problem in this case is what happens to the mind when the paradigm which supports the law has been proven to have anomalies?

If we predict an event to have occurred in 2012 in it doesn't happen until 2666 - it’s not always because of our misinterpretation of the laws in astrology, it could also be because of our misinterpretation of the information that produces the laws that are found in astrology. Pierre Simon de Laplace also realized like we've noticed that "the human mind in the perfection which it has been able to give to astronomy, presents a feeble shadow of this intelligence".

Laplace goes on to say since the mind has discovered mathematics, mechanics, geometry plus universal gravity, all of which have brought the understanding of the universe within the same analytical formula. He also pointed out by applying the same analytical principle to various other objects deriving from the same root of knowledge the mind has manage to reduce the observed phenomena to general laws. And from these general laws which are derived from prior knowledge, the mind has managed to predict results from almost any given set of circumstances.

The amount of new scientific laws that is yet to be discovered may disprove prior laws while providing us with new ways of traveling through time. New laws may help us to discover how to travel between dimensions. We may discover new scientific formula that partially or completely disproves our current ones. It could also be possible that some of our current scientific laws may have kept our mind in captivity; we rely on them too much as if there were the only way, while some derivatives of their prior knowledge have been misinterpreted.

For example, according to the history of science, as stated on darwinconspiracy.com “Darwinist has tried very hard to produce an Evolution Formula. But no scientist ever succeeded. As some have said "It was not the fault of the scientists. It was the fault of the theory. The theory is false. You cannot create a working formula for an invalid theory.” Darwin introduced his Theory of Evolution in 1859; it was accepted worldwide by scientists during the 1930s. Until now no formula has been proven to explain evolution - there are different theories but none are laws.

Darwin theory of evolution states that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor. Which mean the birds and the bananas, the fishes and the flowers – all are related. You may now wonder how anyone could have believed that. Well they did and until this day some still do. We often wondered if they ever thought how uncreative we would have been had we been offspring of one speeches.

And to invite wind to the fire, we also wondered did Darwin theory came before the loving God or did God’s proposed method came before Darwin’s. They seem to be a bottle between God’s word and Darwin’s - We don’t know about anyone else, but we with God words on that one.

Let us not forget our beloved father of discovery, Christopher Columbus. Not only did this distinguish gentlemen discovered America, but he also was the first to figure out that the world was flat. Until his theory was disproved by studies that showed that the Earth is actually in spherical structure. What we don’t understand is that if the ancient Greeks who were thought by the black Egyptians, the Hermes as far back as Pythagoras knew the earth was a sphere why then did the Europeans accepted Columbus explanation that the earth was flat? - Something to think about?

What about our sacred periodic table how accurate is that? For example, “the periodic table and the theory behind it were not shown to be "wrong" with the discovery of six new elements since 1994.” We know you might be thinking this is a conspiracy. We will assure you that it is not – anything that can be proven is not a conspiracy. The element 112, discovered at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum in Darmstadt, has been recognized as a new element by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

Our point exactly is, as long as we continue having new discovery that influences our thinking, they will always be new opportunities for someone to disprove prior knowledge, even those that are scientifically proven. And since we accept this notion, we can now say that there is nothing that is theoretically “true” today that cannot be proven “false” tomorrow. If the state of consciousness and the new environment allows it, new information can be presented to help solve old questions.

This analogy goes hand and hand with our prior one that states “Since society is not stagnant we can’t expect our values to be”. In order to evolve we must redefine our thinking, otherwise we stay stagnant.

This article was published 17 months ago under the title - All truths are relative to prior knowledge.

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Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Popper's falsifiability requirement is also called the Criterion of Demarcation between Science and non-Science. It remains one of the greatest contributions to 20th century thinking. Would that more people would trouble to understand it!


Coolbreezing profile image

Coolbreezing 5 years ago from New York, New York Author

HI! Para how are you - it's been awhile.

THanks for that chain of thought.


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

Very interesting article on Popper.

You say this: "There are many theories that have proven to have derived from prior knowledge. For example we couldn’t write the word knowledge if we didn’t know the alphabet. We wouldn’t know how an orange came about, if we didn’t know a tree produces it."

The examples that you use illustrate a foundationalist view. Each example is based upon another for its justification. The word based upon an alphabet. The orange based upon a tree. I guess the question I would have is what is the basis for the basis. And what justifies it as being a basis. If we claim a basis gives us truth, we then are making the implicit claim that truth requires bases. But then it is plainly obvious our own basis lacks a basis, as it cannot be its own basis. Following through on this train of thought leads us into infinite regress. Theories based upon prior knowledge implies a basis for that prior knowledge. What would that basis be based upon?

I'm not a fan of inductive reasoning at all. I use it like most people in predicting how long it will take me to get to the store and back. It doesn't prove that will always be the case, but I can make a general prediction and for the most part, it's usually accurate. But I know it isn't absolute. If I'm looking for the truth of something, I never apply induction. I tend to apply Modus Tollens If/then. "If it is raining, then there are clouds in the sky." Modus tollens is a valid argument form. Because the form is deductive and has two premises and a conclusion, modus tollens is an example of a syllogism.

Premise 1: If A then B.

Premise 2: Not-B.

Conclusion: Therefore, not-A.

I'm less interested in trying to prove something is true, then I am with determining if something is false. Those things that fall outside the realm of falsifiability are metaphysical in nature and can't be demonstrated as either true or false. They're faith based, and I don't subscribe to that kind of thinking personally. But, IF I can do that, THEN it's one less thing that obscures the truth. (Modus Tollens again) It seems to me that truth is what is left over when you've eliminated those things that are false. It's a subtractive approach rather than an additive one. Like a sculptor that chips away at the marble and reveals the truth of a statue that is hidden within. I subscribe to objective truth. I just don't believe that it can be possessed or owned by anybody. We get glimpses of it when we remove those things that are false.

I find this approach useful in a political sense in order to avoid ideological dogmatism. Those political views that cling dogmatically to some ideology seem to use inductive arguments to support the dogma of the ideology. They can never demonstrate the truth of their ideology. If truth is what I'm after, then an ideology won't supply it. Nice reading your Hub. Cheers.


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"This analogy goes hand and hand with our prior one that states “Since society is not stagnant we can’t expect our values to be”. In order to evolve we must redefine our thinking, otherwise we stay stagnant."

Amen to that. Orthodoxy is the enemy of knowledge. Popper.


Coolbreezing profile image

Coolbreezing 4 years ago from New York, New York Author

Hi Adagio,

I like the concept of Modus Tollens If/then I tends to use it as a form of common sense type of reasoning. I think you've posed a great argument by implying that "Theories based upon prior knowledge implies a basis for that prior knowledge. What would that basis be based upon?"

Nevertheless, if we were to rationalized the concept of prior knowledge as you have suggested we would have end up rationalize everything we came to know as truths that are base on common sense. As an example, we are born knowing that we can't fly like a bird for the simple fact that we don't have wings. Since all truths are relative to prior knowledge, are you suggesting that if I were to say that human can't fly I should also suggest a bases for that truth.

Since we grew up knowing that an orange tree produces orange should I suggest a bases for this argument. If I were to suggest a bases what would it be? - that trees grow from the earth. I think the concept of proving the cause of prior knowledge reaches a point where the information that is subscribe for the truth becomes a matter of common sense.

Very much like if we didn't know the alphabet we wouldn't know how to write the word knowledge. The English alphabet is part of our human development. If I were to travel to China using the Chinese alphabet I would not know how to write the word knowledge in Chines. Would it be necessary for me to know how the Chines Alphabet came to be? And even if I knew what difference it would have made to the concept that the word knowledge is able to be written down because of our prior knowledge of the Chines alphabet.

I think the only reason why we can survive on this planet is because of oxygen - should I prove the prior knowledge to that or is this information relevant to all human kind. For the sake of the argument I think the concept of all truth are relative to prior knowledge brings us closer to the bases, but it is not necessary to define every bases if its too obvious.

Great argument by the way,

Thanks for your thoughts


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

Hi Cool,

First of all, its really refreshing to be talking to somebody with a brain. I just left a Hub chock filled with some very conservative and rather racist ideas that were so locked into their own theories of rationality that I began wondering if I could ever find a person that could use reason as a guide.

Lets take a look here:

"As an example, we are born knowing that we can't fly like a bird for the simple fact that we don't have wings. Since all truths are relative to prior knowledge, are you suggesting that if I were to say that human can't fly I should also suggest a bases for that truth."

Using Modus Tollens as an approach to this, I would say that IF I had wings, THEN I could fly like a bird. I don't have wings, therefore I can't fly like a bird. I find a distinction between looking for a basis for a theory, and seeing a truth that is demonstrable. I don't have wings. That isn't a theory looking for a basis. It's a demonstrable fact. I think that truth is that which corresponds to fact.

In my view, the contemporary attempt to ground rational belief upon irrational commitment suffers from a kind of bad faith. Justification once explained what made scientific belief rational. But the myth of the foundation is like every other myth: its power as a myth depends upon its being taken for the truth. Most of us no longer believe in a bedrock foundation of truth. But few of us believe that rationality is a matter of consensus. Floating Foundationalism will not float for long. It is better to abandon our foundations entirely and with them, the demand that we justify our theories.

Floating Foundationalism comes in many different varieties. But its basic move is to accept some statement or theory—paradigm, linguistic framework, form of life, belief or what have you without justification, and to then use it as a foundation upon which to justify everything else. In so doing, Floating Foundationalism retains the demand, the purpose, and sometimes even the logical structure of justification. But it leaves the foundations themselves floating in mid-air. It acknowledges that justification is ultimately grounded upon something that is itself ungrounded and, irrational. But it advises us not to question these things, but to ‘commit’ ourselves to them instead and to proceed as if nothing has changed.

The only real difference between Floating Foundationalism and traditional bedrock foundationalism is that Floating Foundationalism does not even pretend that its foundations are indubitably true or that the theories that are ‘grounded’ upon them always follow with logical necessity.

I understand why we would want our theories to be justified, if ‘justification’ meant showing them to be true and ‘true’ meant corresponding to the facts. And I understand, if this is what ‘justification’ and ‘true’ mean, that we might still want our theories to be justified even if we recognize that justifying them is an impossible dream.

But if a theory can be justified and not true, then why are we so concerned with justification? If a theory can be true but not correspond to the facts, then why should we be concerned with truth? What exactly turns on the justification of a belief if it's not its correspondence with the facts? And what, if anything, does all of this have to do with the institutionalist’s distaste for criticism? I just left a Hub filled with institutionalists and they certainly have a distaste for criticism.

These questions, in my view, can all be answered in a word. The word is ‘authority’, and in this context it refers to the cognitive authority that justification is supposed to provide for our beliefs.

This is why institutionalists recommend that we commit ourselves to a theory. And this is why they do not like criticism. If our knowledge is not grounded upon bedrock, then we better not rock the boat. But in my view, it is just this appeal to foundations that are not indubitably true and to arguments that are not logically valid that is likely to lead to infallibilism and authoritarianism. It also leads one inevitably toward a conservative ideology. Conseratives are foundationalist and supreme justificationists.

"Since we grew up knowing that an orange tree produces orange should I suggest a bases for this argument."

I don't really think you need one. If it's an orange tree, then it produces oranges. I don't subscribe to the idea that rationality depends upon justification,but rather with criticism. It's our ability to criticize something that makes us raional. Not our justification of something. Popper maintained that truth is correspondence to the facts and that justification is the demonstration of truth. But he also maintained that we have rational knowledge despite the fact that we can never justify our theories, or show that they are even probably true. And he was especially critical of inductivism and of the sort of institutionalism that pretends that justification and truth are matters of consensus.

These two things — institutionalism and inductivism — are more closely related than one might think. For it is only the pressure of ‘The Institution’ that supports the illusion that scientific theories are justified by inductive arguments.

Popper argued that any attempt to justify our beliefs must lead either to psychologism, or to dogmatism, or to infinite regress. It's the attempt to look for basis that I spoke of. What justifies the basis? What is the basis for the basis for the basis? But neither psychologism nor dogmatism can demonstrate truth. And he concluded not only that it is impossible to justify our beliefs, but that attempts to do so may lead to authoritarianism of one form or another. This authoritarianism takes form when infinite regress is recognized and the only way out is through the circular reasoning that basis itself on itself. It appeals to it's own authority as it's authority. This is what he meant when he called the positivists’ appeal to the authority of experience ‘artless’. For authority is authority — regardless of whether it is the authority of the Pope, or the authority of experience, or the authority of ‘The Institution’. And it is useless as proof to anyone unwilling to defer to it.

"For the sake of the argument I think the concept of all truth are relative to prior knowledge brings us closer to the bases,"

But what then is the basis for the prior knowledge? What is the authority that justifies it?

This is a great discussion. I thank you for your thoughts as well. It's great to find a thinking person on this site. Right now, I'm going to head off to bed and mourn the loss of Derrick Rose for the NBA playoffs. I'm a Bulls fan, and we had great hopes for a Championship this year:(


Coolbreezing profile image

Coolbreezing 4 years ago from New York, New York Author

Hi Adagio,

This discussion has gotten better, more complicated but deserving of its complication.

"I find a distinction between looking for a basis for a theory, and seeing a truth that is demonstrable. I don't have wings. That isn't a theory looking for a basis. It's a demonstrable fact. I think that truth is that which corresponds to fact."

The bird example is as a matter fact an example for the previously mentioned theory which said that " All truth are relative to prior knowledge." Since it is understood and can be proven that humans don't have wings this truth is relative to the concept that the theory set to demonstrate. Although it is a demostrable fact that humans can't fly like birds, the prior knowledge for this truth comes with the understanding that birds do fly, and for that we can make a distinction between the reason why birds fly and why us humans don't.

Learning from your thought process you have left me obligated to use your own reasoning to support my argument. As you have said in previous post "It seems to me that truth is what is left over when you've eliminated those things that are false. It's a subtractive approach rather than an additive one." That was well said, and for that reason it shouldn't be hard to conceive that the process of deducting humans not having wings with the contrast of bird having wings as a system of falsifiability based on a subtractive approach.

The theory I previously mentioned says that "All truth are relative to prior knowledge." The prior knowledge from the bird example rest on the ability to compare and contrast the abilities of the human being with that of the bird.

"Floating Foundationalism comes in many different varieties. But its basic move is to accept some statement or theory—paradigm, linguistic framework, form of life, belief or what have you without justification, and to then use it as a foundation upon which to justify everything else."

All truth are relative to prior knowledge is it a theory that is base on the concept of Floating Foundationalism? If there's a single truth that was not base on prior knowledge than this theory would be Floating until than it is a bedrock solid and indubitably true. Adagio I greatly respect your thoughts my brother, but if you wish to disprove this theory you'll have to provide me with an example that does not depend on any form of prior knowledge for its validity.

"But if a theory can be justified and not true, then why are we so concerned with justification? If a theory can be true but not correspond to the facts, then why should we be concerned with truth? What exactly turns on the justification of a belief if it's not its correspondence with the facts? And what, if anything, does all of this have to do with the institutionalist’s distaste for criticism? I just left a Hub filled with institutionalists and they certainly have a distaste for criticism."

I think there you might be inferring to the belief of a supernatural and conclude that "if a theory can be justified and not true, then why are we so concerned with justification." I begin all faith base argument with the proposition that faith is the dead end of logical reasoning.

However, if the theory you have referred is the one in discussion, I would have to say that any theory that is justifiable and not true has an anomaly in its structure that is not yet noticeable. In the past there have been theories that were proven false at a later time after being practice for many years.

Nevertheless, I could not understand why would a theory be true but not correspond to the facts, then why should we be concerned with truth. I think if a theory is true it must be factual otherwise it must be a contradiction, it is that simple.

I would not say that Authority is the reason why we must provide justification for our beliefs. I think we can only accept a belief if we have justification for accepting it without that its meaningless to us.

"If our knowledge is not grounded upon bedrock, then we better not rock the boat. But in my view, it is just this appeal to foundations that are not indubitably true and to arguments that are not logically valid that is likely to lead to infallibilism and authoritarianism. It also leads one inevitably toward a conservative ideology. Conseratives are foundationalist and supreme justificationists."

If our knowledge is not grounded upon bedrock we can still rock the boat by sailing our beliefs towards the direction where true knowledge are logically valid, but this is not to say being unquestionably wrong or logically invalid would lead to authoritarianism, it will depends on what the person is wrong about. There are certain lies or false knowledge if said publicly on the internet can endanger the lives of others. I think from that perspective the person should understand as DR. Cornel West once said when "knowledge becomes dangerous."

"Popper maintained that truth is correspondence to the facts and that justification is the demonstration of truth. But he also maintained that we have rational knowledge despite the fact that we can never justify our theories, or show that they are even probably true."

All due respect to Popper I'll like to know the difference between facts and truths. It would seems to me that facts and truths are synonyms of each other and that they mean the same exact thing. If I discover evidence of a crime than I have justification which demonstrate a factual event that is bade on truth. The evidence is true because of the facts which without the crime would be unsolvable. Therefore, whenever there is a true occurrence there must be factual evidence. In that sense I will not buy this logic from Popper, it is not constructed with a sounded argument.

But what then is the basis for the prior knowledge? What is the authority that justifies it?

When looking at the theory of prior knowledge which state that "All truth are relative to prior knowledge" the basis depends on what is being discussed as the truth. For instant if we were to use Newton Third Law of motion that for Every Action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The prior knowledge would have relied on the concept that " The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object. The direction of the force on the first object is opposite to the direction of the force on the second object. Forces always come in pairs - equal and opposite action-reaction force pairs."

That is in fact what we mean when we say that ALL TRUTHS ARE RELATIVE TO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE - the truth that the knowledge depends on could be demostrable or a matter of common sense like we've discussed earlier.

Thank you also Adagio good talking with you and good luck with the NBA hopefully Derrick recover soon before playoffs ends. I was once a Bulls fans well rather a Jordan fan I think that's more accurate.


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"I begin all faith base argument with the proposition that faith is the dead end of logical reasoning."

Really? I would be more inclined to say that faith is the dead end of illogical reasoning. Logic is the study of arguments. It’s what we use to evaluate correct reasoning from poor reasoning. Without logic, we have no way of evaluating truth from garbage. Logic doesn’t care about our beliefs. Logic is pretty cold when it comes to things like that.

If we accept the fact of our own fallibility, then we know that our ability to use reasoning is far from perfect, but it is also our most reliable and successful means for developing sound judgments about the world around us. Other things enter into our tool kit of survival such as habits, and traditions and they often work for us with some degree of success, yet they aren’t

reliable.

I'm going to present some thoughts that I hope won't be too long winded for your consideration.

Where we see a lot of difficulty with people in an argument, we can often point to their reliance upon the habits and traditions that form their theory of rationality. They are comfortable with those habits and traditions which provide a solid ground for them to function from. They don’t like having those habits challenged or those traditions threatened. The once

solid ground now becomes “shaky ground” and that’s not comfortable terrain for people. And if you are the cause of their shaky ground…they are going to blame you for exposing those habits and traditions as being nothing more than irrational. They probably won’t like you very much.

In general, our ability to survive depends upon our ability to know what is true, or at least what is more likely true than not true. For that, we need to use reason and reason depends on logic. Poor reasoning is a result of poor logic. If you aren’t using logic, you can’t lay claim to being a reasonable person.

But getting back to beliefs; I would have to agree with William Bartley who pointed out “Beliefs must be justified by an appeal to an authority of some kind (usually the source of the belief in question) and this justification by an appropriate authority makes the belief either rational, or if not rational, at least valid for the person who holds it." However this is a requirement that can never be adequetly met due to the problem of validation or the dilemma of infinite regress vs. dogmatism. Besides some authority figure, what justifies the dogmatic belief? And what justifies the authority of the authority figure?

Take for example the statement: "Since there are no absolute truths, all truths are relative to prior knowledge." The statement asserts an absolute truth in order to justify the claim that there are no absolute truths. It states with absolute certitude that there are no absolute truths, which is an absolute in itself. It also states that all truths are relative a priori to knowledge.

In order to understand Popper’s solutions to the problems of induction and demarcation, it is necessary to understand his problem situation. It is necessary, in other words, to understand why Popper regarded induction and demarcation as the two fundamental problems of epistemology.

This, I suggest, can best be understood as a result of the collapse of foundationalism, which can in turn be best understood as posing a problem regarding the rational authority for our beliefs.

Traditional ‘bedrock’ foundationalism said that knowledge must be justified in order to be rational, and it attempted to justify our knowledge by deriving it from an indubitab¬le and infallible source. Descartes, it is well known, declared that the God-given intellect is such a source, and that whatever we clearly and distinctly perceive with it must be true. But by the eighteenth century, many philosophers had grown sceptical of attempts to ground rational knowledge upon a priori intuition. These philosophers regarded sense experience as the only criterion of truth. They said that our general theories must be inferred inductively from experience. And they demanded that we eliminate beliefs that could not be grounded upon sense experience alone.

But Hume then argued that the attempt to ground our scientific knowledge upon sense experience leads to irrationalism. Hume pointed out that there is no ‘middle term’ that allows us to validly infer future events from past experiences, and that such inductive inferences provide only psychological, as opposed to rational, jus-tification through custom and habit. Hume thought that our knowledge was, in fact, psychologically justified in just this way, and he said that reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions.

Kant rejected Hume’s irrationalism, and, thinking that Hume was right to think that empiricism entailed it, proclaimed that there must be a priori knowledge after all. Kant pointed to Euclidean Geometry and Newtonian Mechanics as examples of what he called a priori synthetic knowledge. And he tried to explain how a priori synthetic knowledge was possible by saying that the mind imposes its laws upon nature in order to understand it, and that all rational beings impose the same laws. This is Kants justification for a priori knowledge.

This, as Popper understood it, was the situation in epistemology before Einstein. Kant’s attempt to salvage the rationality of science collapsed when Einstein imposed a non-Euclidean geometry and a non-Newtonian physics upon nature. Einstein described a natural world that rational beings before him had never conceived. And his descriptions were then corroborated by the results of the experiments that he conceived in order to test them.

The success of Einstein’s theory shattered all hopes of explaining the rationality of science in terms of a priori foundations. If Kant could be wrong about the a priori certainty of Newtonian Mechanics and Euclidean Geometry, then how could anyone ever claim to be a priori certain again?

But it did not quite shatter the hopes of foundationalists, who, forgetting about Hume’s irrationalism, once again tried to explain the rationality of science as a byproduct of its justification by sense experience. Wittgenstein and the logical positivists, in particular, argued, as Hume had argued before them, that the meaning of a term is reducible to sense impressions, and that empirical verifiability is what distinguishes science from metaphysics, and sense from nonsense.

It was in this context that induction and demarcation emerged for Popper as the two fundamental problems of epistemology.Popper realized that the attempt to explain the rationality of science as a byproduct of its justification had failed. We cannot rationally ground science upon a priori cognition because a priori cognition is unreliable, and we cannot rationally ground science upon sense experience because inductive inference is invalid. If we want to avoid Hume’s conclusion that science is irrationally grounded in custom and habit, then we have to explain how scientific knowledge can be rational given the fact that it cannot be rationally justified.

This, in a nutshell, was Popper’s problem. In order to solve it, Popper had to first offer an alternative to the view that science is distinguished from non-science by its inductive method, and then an alternative to the view that the rationality of a belief depends upon its justification. He had, in other words, to offer an alternative to the view that science is both science and rational because it justifies its theories through sense experience.

Popper’s problem, in a nutshell, was to explain how the growth of scientific knowledge can be both empirical and rational. Here, Popper agreed with Hume that the attempt to justify our knowledge by inductive inferences from experience leads to irrationalism but he denied that scientists generally reason inductively at all. He agreed with Kant that experience and observation presuppose a priori ideas but he denied that our a priori ideas are certainly true. And he agreed with the positivists that it is no longer possible to appeal to a priori valid principles in our attempts to justify


Coolbreezing profile image

Coolbreezing 4 years ago from New York, New York Author

Hi Adagio,

"I begin all faith base argument with the proposition that faith is the dead end of logical reasoning." Let us use Modus Tollens as an approach to this logic should we? If faith is the dead end of logical reasoning then faith must be the end of logic. If the car represent logic and it goes into a dead end street then that street must represent faith. In that sense faith is the dead end to logical reasoning because when considering any beliefs that dealt with faith we accept this beliefs without questioning it. So it is not logic that is the dead end but faith for the reason being that logic allows us to follow through our thoughts while faith ask us to beliefs. I hope this explains it better.

Concepts:

The confusion between logic and reason is unavoidable. Some would even argue that they mean the same. What gives it away is the term “logical reasoning”. Obviously, if those two words meant the same the preceded term "logical" would not have followed "reasoning" it would not have been possible. Where "reason" is the sum total which resulted into the meaning, logic is the rule that allows reason to come up with the sum. Logic holes a superior value than reason because logic is often regarded as "laws" that reason must follow to come up with a meaningful answer. For example: the law of conservation of energy is known to have been based on logical principles or we can recognized 2 % 2 = 0 as a form of logic where the " % " is the logic and the #2 as the reason. The picture above is a series of logic that reason must fallow in order to come up with a reasonable conclusion.

Concepts:

Reason is that thin line between knowledge and wisdom. Although there are not identical, at times they can be some similarities, especially when what is being addressed is based on facts. Wisdom for the most part is expressed in the form of cautioned. Where knowledge is totally codependent on reason, wisdom is not. Wisdom takes into account the subliminal messages which at times do not make sense to us. Example: When the loads are that heavy only minuscule steps can prevent them from falling. As you can see the strength of wisdom is base on an educated life experience, not age. If age could determine wisdom mother earth would not have been in this predicament that she's in now. Nonetheless, aging can relate with wisdom, but it is not because of how long one been on this earth, rather the experiences that one has had on this earth.

"Hume pointed out that there is no ‘middle term’ that allows us to validly infer future events from past experiences, and that such inductive inferences provide only psychological, as opposed to rational, jus-tification through custom and habit. "

Although Hume is right in the sense that we cannot validly infer future events from a past experience but what we do have the capability to do is to prevent similar experiences from occurring in the future by studying the past. And that inferring would be based of rationalism.

"We cannot rationally ground science upon a priori cognition because a priori cognition is unreliable, and we cannot rationally ground science upon sense experience because inductive inference is invalid. If we want to avoid Hume’s conclusion that science is irrationally grounded in custom and habit, then we have to explain how scientific knowledge can be rational given the fact that it cannot be rationally justified."

Well, its a great thing I didn't study philosophy in great depth in college because i would have fallen victims to these illogical concepts. "We cannot rationally ground science upon a priori cognition because a priori cognition is unreliable." If we were to mix NaOH (sodium hydroxide) + HCL (hydrochloric acid) = NaCl (salt) + H2O (water) depending on the amount measured. But the bottom line is that the mixture would have produced a chemical reaction each time we perform that task. Well, than since that is the predicted result, is the assumption that by mixing Sodium hydroxide + hydrochloric acid we would have end up with salt and water not a priori cognitive we can rely on given the consideration that we know exactly how much to add to create the reaction we want.

"we cannot rationally ground science upon sense experience because inductive inference is invalid."

Example: Work & Power

http://faraday.physics.utoronto.ca/PVB/Harrison/En...

"The SI unit of power is the watt (W), named after James Watt, who invented the modern steam engine. The dimensions are N-m/s. The British units of power are ft-lb/sec. In about 1775, Watt introduced another unit for power: the horsepower (hp) . At that time, horses were used to lift coal up from a mine, as shown to the right. Watt learned that "a strong horse could lift 150 pounds a height of 220 feet in 1 minute." He defined this as one horsepower. 1 hp is 150 lb x 220 ft / 60 seconds = 550 ft-lb/sec. In principle, we could measure the horsepower of an engine the same way that Watt defined it: see how much weight the engine can lift a specified distance in a given time."

This example proves that inductive inference is not invalid and that yes we can rationalize ground science upon sense experience. So far this concept of calculating the horsepower of an engine has been proven to work. If it is not accurate or invalid many of our machines that were built on this priori cognition would have been improperly design. I will not say that this methord of calculating horse power is the best or the most accurate, but what I can say is that this is the methord we have available for now. Ans so long as it hasn't show any anomalies within the process of calculating horse power of an engine we'll have to accept it as our best methord.

James Dubreze


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

"I hope this explains it better."

It does. I understand what you're saying now. We're actually trying to say the same thing.

BTW...It seems that a portion of my post to you didn't make it. For some reason, the Hubs sometimes don't print out the entire comments. Sorry about that.

I really don't view reason and logic as synonomous. In my view, reason is a more external description of our thought process. Logic is more of an internal method we use or don't use to shape that thought process called reason. Essentially we use one of two forms of reason. Inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning.

Deduction is generally an inference by reasoning from the general to the specific. A deduction is also the conclusion reached by a deductive reasoning process. One classic example of deductive reasoning is that found in syllogisms like the following:

Premise 1: All humans are mortal.

Premise 2: Socrates is a human.

Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.

The reasoning in this argument is valid, because there is no way in which the premises, 1 and 2, could be true and the conclusion, 3, be false. WE can thank Aristotle for this.

Induction is an inference from the specific to the general. It is a form of inference producing propositions about unobserved objects or types, either specifically or generally, based on previous observation. Inductive reasoning contrasts strongly with deductive reasoning in that, even in the best, or strongest, cases of inductive reasoning, the truth of the premises does not guarantee the truth of the conclusion. Instead, the conclusion of an inductive argument follows with some degree of probability.

A classic example of inductive reasoning comes from the empiricist David Hume:

Premise: The sun has risen in the east every morning up until now. Conclusion: The sun will also rise in the east tomorrow.

There are other forms of reason such as abductive and analogical, but generally speaking we use either inductive or deductive reasoning in our everyday lives.

I don't really make statements regarding wisdom. Iknow of no course offered in college that taught wisdom. It's a subject best aquired through experience in life. It's an abstract concept which most certainly means different things to different people based upon their own life experience. It strikes me that I found a great deal of wisdom in the words of Lau Tzu and a few others. Words that ring true in a universal sense. "Woman that fly upside down have crack up". All jokes aside, I did emerse myself in Zen many years ago. I found that through the use of words, or questions, a person can be jolted into an awareness that they didn't have previously. There are maxims that many of us adhere to. The Golden Rule for example. Words of wisdom that if people would apply to their lives could profoundly change the world.

The example that you give regarding Watt doesn't actually demonstrate the claim. What Watt did was create an arbitrary unit and gave it a name. Horsepower. The reason it's arbitrary is that Watt learned that "a strong horse could lift 150 pounds a height of 220 feet in 1 minute." A strong horse?? Define a "strong horse". As compared to a weak horse? Could a stronger horse have done it quicker? What kind of horse was it? They aren't all the same. Was the horse that he used the strongest horse, or a horse of "average" strength? What exactly is the average strength of a horse? How many horses did he experiment on in order to use to make that determination? What was the reference point he used to determine what a strong horse was? How did he define a strong horse? Could a stronger horse do the job faster than the one he used as his example? In short...what is the methodology based on other then his definition of a "strong horse". We don't know what that means beyond his calculation. The calculation serves a purpose but it doesn't tell us what a strong horse is other than what Watt tells us. Maybe a horse in the next town would have been stronger.

What Watt did was invent a unit of power and base it on an arbitrary and abstract reference. A "Strong horse". We accepted this arbitrary unit as being his rule of thumb and defined this as one horsepower. 1 hp is 150 lb x 220 ft / 60 seconds = 550 ft-lb/sec. Watt set the rule. He didn't discover horsepower. He invented it.

"So far this concept of calculating the horsepower of an engine has been proven to work."

Of course it's going to work. He invented a unit of measurment. It's a standard. It's not a law of nature. It's not a priori cognition that is involved here. It's a prescribed unit of measurment invented by Watt. We also have thermometers and other units of measurement such as inches, and milimeters. None of those are a priori cognitions. This method of calculating horsepower works because Watt described it as such and it became a standard. I suppose a person could invent another called "PigPower" but I don't think this demonstrates how inductive inference is not invalid. Mr. Watt was an excellent engineer. But he isn't dealing with the rationalization of science upon sense experience. I don't think that was ever his intention, but using this as an example doesn't demonstrate the claim. He invented a prescribed unit of measurment, with a predetermined outcome based upon an abstract concept of a strong horse.

I'll have to cash in for now. It's late and I'm toast.

Talk to you soon Cool.


Coolbreezing profile image

Coolbreezing 4 years ago from New York, New York Author

Adagio,

"What Watt did was invent a unit of power and base it on an arbitrary and abstract reference. A "Strong horse". We accepted this arbitrary unit as being his rule of thumb and defined this as one horsepower. 1 hp is 150 lb x 220 ft / 60 seconds = 550 ft-lb/sec. Watt set the rule. He didn't discover horsepower. He invented it."

I agree with the above statement. This is why I said so long as it hasn't show any anomalies within the process of calculating horse power of an engine we'll have to accept it as our best method. It's a floating method of measurement which can eventually improve.

"Woman that fly upside down have crack up". If you understand the analogy please explain it to me because i don't.

"The Golden Rule for example. Words of wisdom that if people would apply to their lives could profoundly change the world."

Examples:

Reality is what we do to better our relationship with each other so that we leave behind a better world for our children. Unfortunately, the future can only become brighter if it’s not overshadowed by our conflicting past, we must learn to let go of our anger for the benefit of peace.

The subordination of fear does not come with string attached. It is achieved by lessening material good for the satisfaction of public good.

The paradox of life is not that it’s a bitch, but rather because the planet is not viewed as an integral part of humanity.

Truth is like the reflection of the sun, because when it is spoken it illuminates our minds. It is neither subjective, objective nor relative to anything, but it is reactive, considering that the sun rise and fall, it affects us all like the truth enlighten our minds.

One of our biggest obstacles that prevent progress of human beings is “doubt” because when it comes to making decision we very often starves confidence and feed doubt.

The ability to create is the gift that out stands the intellectual superiority that us mankind possess over all other species. Although this intelligence is clearly an advantage to humanity, it can also be a disadvantage when guided by greed.

Thinking is the quest to know what’s here about; it is our own assessment, our own interpretation of life. Although our thoughts maybe limited by true knowledge, through thinking it’s possible that we can explore new dimensions and thereby surpass this limitation.

Societal truth is buried within individuals unconscious mind, to arrived to it, layers of traditional thinking must be removed one after another until individuals can begins to formalized their own thoughts without it being influenced.

Knowledge is limitless the only thing that is limited in knowledge is our inability to access it.

James Dubreze

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