Re: PHIL: Justificationalism

Date: Sun Jan 16 2000 - 18:24:23 MST

In a message dated 1/16/2000 1:14:26 PM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

> rephrase: can you give me *ONE* single example of a case where, using
> criticism as your only tool, you succeed in ADDING TO the body of
> stored in your mind ?

I can think of two right off hand: 1) Halley's comet falsification of
Newtonian mechanics and 2) warping of space-time (Einstein) falsification of
1919. These two are commonly used as examples of deductive reasoning
over-throwing an old theory yet _not_ proving the new theory. Both events
met the requirements of conjecture and refutation (falsification) of Popper,
and survived yet the knowledge came from the other direction (refutation of
theory, NOT PROOF).

In the first case a very specific prediction was made (a comet will return in
December 1758, in a certain sky location) that if did not come true, that
would have crippled if not destroyed orbital calculation using Newtonian
mechanics, but instead the comte returned and destroyed the proviously
allegedly "true" theory of Ptolomy/Aristotle/.

In the second case, Einstein's theories could have been destroyed, but the
idea of universal quantity call "time" was destroyed instead. Later this
happened with mass and velocity no longer beeing thought of a changeless.

So the threatened destruction of one resulted in destruction of an erroneous
explanation and knowledge increased. No one said that the new theory was
"true" after the tesing. That is the philosophically important part of
deduction (opposed to induction). [1]

>From this unification also increases knowledge by generating a plethora of
new conjectures. This is called "fruitfullness" in the philosophy of
science's theory on generation of new knowledge. The survivors then add to
knowledge themselves built on top of the destruction. This is also called
the "dynamical" character or the "fertility" of the theory (Frank, Philipp,
in Klemke, et al.1998, 467).

There are many such example where the new theory is not proven, yet the old
theory is destroyed and knowledge increases: Koch's postulates vs.
spontaneous generation, Darwinism vs. Creationism, Astronomy vs. Astrology,
(Is this not happening with science in general vs. religion in general?).

Notebly this has not happened with: Golgi body vs. "cellular artifacts,"
Prion vs. virus explanation for CJD/BSE (even with the Noble Prize already
given for Prions).

[1] Stephen Hawking said theories are not reality, only models predicting
observations (see the reference in my post to John K. Clark today).
According to Hawking, theories are not even explanations of reality and
certainly not "true or false", just better or worse at prediction.

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