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Karl Popper on Science : Conjectures and Refutations Emmanuel Udoh Karl Popper (1963). Science: Conjecture and refutations.

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Presentation on theme: "Karl Popper on Science : Conjectures and Refutations Emmanuel Udoh Karl Popper (1963). Science: Conjecture and refutations."— Presentation transcript:

1 Karl Popper on Science : Conjectures and Refutations Emmanuel Udoh Karl Popper (1963). Science: Conjecture and refutations

2 Sir Karl Raimund Popper ( ) Bio Austrian-British Philosopher Brought four paradigm shifts to philosophical thought Interests: Philosophical, Social, Political and Historical

3 1919: The Problem of Demarcation When should a theory be ranked as science? How do you distinguish science from pseudo- science?

4 Popper’s ‘17 Theses’ 1. It is easy to obtain confirmations for nearly every theory 2. Confirmations should count only if they are a result of risky predictions 3. Every ‘good’ scientific theory is a prohibition 4. A theory which is not refutable is unscientific 5. Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it 6. Confirmation should only count when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory 7. Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers

5 Popper’s ‘17 Theses’ 8. There are no ultimate sources of knowledge 9. The proper epistemol ogical question is not one about sources, but whether it agrees with the facts 10. The most important source of our knowledge is tradition 11. knowledge cannot start from nothing -a tabula rasa- nor yet from observatio n 12. The advance of knowledge consists, mainly, in the modificati on of earlier knowledge 13. There is no criterion of truth, though we possess the criteria to recognize error and falsity 14. Neither observatio n nor reason are authorities 15. Testability has degrees; the theory which takes more risks is more testable, and therefore, better 16. Every solution of a problem raises new unsolved problems 17. All scientific knowledge is hypothetic al, conjectura l, and inherently fallible

6 Popper’s Critique of the ‘Sciences’ of his time Marxist Theory of History Testable Falsified Conventionalist twist Not Scientific Astrology Soothsaying Confirmationist Not falsifiable Not scientific Psychoanalytic Theories (Freud & Adler) Non-testable Verificationist Not scientific Einstein’s Theory of Gravitation Falsifiable Refutable Scientific

7 The Problem of Induction David Hume’s dilemma: Psychological explanation of induction  Inductive reasoning leads to generalizations & infinite regress :  e.g. All swans I’ve seen are white…therefore, all swans are white  Inductive generalizations (custom, habit, repetition) lack logical justification  Popper’s verdict: Scientific conjectures are logically prior to observations

8 What should the method of science be? Observation -> Theory Dogmatic attitude Pseudo Science Myth or Pre-science Hypothesis -> Observation Scientific attitude Science Critical (analytic), rational

9 Popper’s criterion of scientificity Falsifiability, or refutability or testability : A logical possibility to be refuted by a probable, true, observation statement

10 The Critical (Scientific) Method P1 (Initial Problem) TT (Tentative theories) EE (error elimination, empirical falsification, experiment, critical argument, refutation P (New Problems 2, 3, 4, etc.)  An epistemological process of (Darwinian) “natural selection”

11 How scientific knowledge grows  The best theories survive, while the inadequate ones are tossed away by scientific examination  Risky conjectures ensure the survival of the fittest ideas

12 Qualities of a good scientific theory Vs(a) CtT(a) CtF(a) Probability, Knowledge and Verisimilitude

13 Some questions for discussion  In what ways has Popper’s thoughts influenced scientific enquiry and research today?  With a Popperian mindset, which of these is science…Clinical Psychoanalysis, Physics, Accounting, Philosophy of Science, Pharmacy, Informatics, Astronomy, logic, Metaphysics?  Do you share the view that following Popper’s theory logically, theories cannot be definitively refuted any more than they can be verified or proved?  Popper claimed to have "solved Hume's problem“. He tries to deny that the accumulation of observational evidence ever leads to the formation of hypotheses. Yet to the question of where a hypothesis comes from, Popper replies ‘from the refutation of a prior hypothesis, not from the collection of observational evidence’. Has Popper himself not fallen into induction?

14 Bibliography  Artigas, M. (n.d.). The Ethical Roots of Karl Popper's Epistemology. Jacques Maritain Center: Retrieved September 29, 2014, from  Bawden, D., Robinson, L. (2013). Introduction to information science (49-50). Chicago: Neal Schuman.  Brookes, B. C. (1980). The foundations of information science. Part 1: philosophical aspects, Journal of Information Science, 2(3/4),  Champion, R. (n.d.). Popper's Evolutionary Theory of Knowledge. Retrieved from rathouse.com/poptheoryknow.html  Champion, R. (n.d.). Popperian "Turns": Conjectural, Objectivist, Social, Metaphysical. Retrieved from rathouse.com/Pop-Schol/PopperTurns.html  Dioguardi, M. (2010, February 2). Karl Popper’s Nine Theses Concerning Epistemology | Critical Rationalism Blog. Accessed September 4, nine-theses-concerning-epistemology/ also Karl Popper (Author), M.A. Notturno (Editor) The Myth of the Framework, Chapter 4, page 93 to 94 Routledge; New Ed edition (January 25, 1996)  Hjørland, B. (1992). The concept of ‘subject’ in information science, Journal of documentation, 48(2),  Notturno, M. A.(2000) Science and the open society: the future of Karl Popper’s Philosophy, Budapest: Central European University Press.  Popper, K. R. (1963) Conjectures and Refutations, London: Routledge. section xiv.

15 Bibliography  Popper’s Theory of Epistemology: A Perpetual Falsifiable Journey Towards Truth. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2013, from  Popper, K.R. (March 2, 2001). All Life is Problem Solving, London: Routledge. Chapter 7 says "A rationalist is simply someone for whom it is more important to learn than to be proved right..."  Popper, K. R. Conjectures and Refutations. The Growth of Scientific Knowledge. London, Routledge and Kegan Paul 1965, p  Popper, K. R. (1945, reprint 2006). (chapters 23,24). The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume Two, Routledge  Popper, K. R. The Logic of Scientific Discovery, English translation 1959, 109). Originally, Logik der Forschung, Vienna: Julius Springer Verlag,  Popper, K. R. (1976), ‘A Note on Verisimilitude’, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 27,  Popper, K. (1987), Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind, in: Gerard Radnitzky and William W. Bartley, III (editors), Evolutionary Epistemology, Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, p  Wettersten, J. R. (2007). Popper and Critical Rationalism, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved September 4, 2013, from


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