May 27th, 2013
I did have a few questions in regards to the nature of scientific explanation and furthering (or ‘advancing’, if you prefer) scientific knowledge. Hume had recognized that the problem of induction can not be justified by an inductive rule (that would be circular) or a deductive rule (or else the principle wouldn’t be inductive – we cannot deduce the truth of induction from the axioms of logic). This of course being Hume’s fork.
However, does Karl Popper’s interpretation of scientific methods being deductive (or falsifiable) solve this problem more so than science on the inductive interpretation? In short, Im just curious if we are reasonable in rejecting Hume’s skepticism, but sound in still adhering to science hinging off of induction.
I did a lot of work on this question in my MA thesis. My full answer is a bit long but I hope it’s easy to follow. For the Reader’s Digest version, I’d say that I’m not a fan of deductive arguments and I prefer inductive arguments. (Actually, I love abductive arguments much more but that’s another issue!) I’m very sympathetic to Popper’s criterion of falsifiability but it’s not a necessary condition for science–it’s just preferable. I’ll try to contextualize and elaborate on some of the hidden talking points in your question so some of the readers can follow along.
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November 26th, 2012
This is a call for papers to be submitted to me for online publication with Sententias. I’m looking for about ten papers. Please include an abstract and Turabian format. The paper can be a minimum of 4 pages but there’s not maximal limit. I will compile the papers and put them in the first volume and issue of the Sententias Journal (Free online PDF file). This is just to kickstart more activity for Sententias to take part in. Depending on the feedback and participation we can make this a peer-reviewed process so we can have some respectable esteem. But, for now, we need to start modestly. Theists, atheists, Christians, evolutionists, and intelligent design proponents are all welcome. Here are a few suggested options:
- What’s a scientific theory?
- What’s a scientific explanation?
- Breaking down a particular interpretation of quantum physics.
- Brak down a model of cosmological origins.
- Argue for Darwinism
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September 9th, 2012
The Deductive-Nomological model, strictly speaking, certainly seems ideal but is untenable. This is ideal for empiricists arguing from fixed premises but this view hardly seems amenable to novel discoveries and even predictions. D-N does have a robust explanatory scope and power of causal laws such as the law of conservation. This model doesn’t have any explanatory power for other laws (i.e. the Pauli Exclusion Principle, which prohibits atomic electrons from collapsing in on the nucleus and being propelled away from the nucleus). The D-N model, if it were to implement the Pauli Exclusion Principle, would have a self-defeating condition in the explanandum or explanans (depending on how the principle is being used). So, the model itself seems inert to the effect that it could never be verified or falsified by its own merit and criteria. It stands in a privileged explanatory position.
Additionally, the D-N seems incompatible with many models of our universe. This model assumes that the universe is deterministic. Its view of causality is more than the Humean notion of effects rooted in habits of association, and rightly so, but it assumes that causality is applicable in every instance of a law. There are several problems with this in the quantum world. Quantum calculations are solely based on probabilities. The vast majority of quantum interpretations are indeterministic (i.e. the traditional Copenhagen, GRW, Popper, transactional, etc.). Additionally, there are other interpretations that suggest that the quantum world is deterministic (i.e. de Broglie-Bohm and Many Worlds). What this goes to say is that the world may not be completely deterministic but it’s certainly not chaotic either. This is where I get caught between the efficacy of the I-S model and the D-N-P model. The D-N-P model makes sense of deterministic and probabilistic explanandums.
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June 14th, 2012
The necessitarian states that there are metaphysical connections of necessity in the world that ground and explain the most fundamental regularities. Necessitarian theorists usually use the word must to express this connection. Thus, NT maintains must-statements are not adequately captured by is-statements (must ≠ is, or certain facts are unaccounted for). Nomic necessity claims that it is difficult for mere regularity to account for certain counterfactual claims because what happens in the actual world do not themselves imply anything about what would have happened had things been different. If it is now true that Q occurs if P causally precedes Q then the necessitarian can adequately account for counterfactual claims. Given the present antecedent condition of P at tn and P implies Q at tn and it was true that P implied Q at tn-1 then using P as an antecedent for R at hypothetical tn-1’ then R is true if P was a sufficient condition R at tn-1’. Thus, there is certainty in the truth of counterfactual claims. However, counterfactuals allow for conflict between truth functional interpretation and ordinary language. For instance, any counterfactual claim with the necessary condition having a false truth-value and the sufficient condition obtaining a truth-value that is true then the counterfactual claim will be invalid.
Why is supporting counterfactual conditionals a symptom of nomic necessity? I would ague that there must be a connection or relationship between the conditions. Consider the argument, as modus ponens, that if the moon’s core is made of cheese then my desk is made from mahogany. What relationship do these two conditions have?
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