January 14th, 2013
There isn’t a straight line of demarcation between science and pseudoscience (PS), which is universally applicable in all fields categorized as scientific. A general guide for demarcating between the two is that the theory should have observable evidence, provides predictions, uses non-controversial reasoning, and is repeatable. These are simply guidelines and do not necessarily count as criteria for disqualifying a theory if all aren’t met because some are simply untenable depending on the field in which they are applied. Falsification is not necessary for a scientific theory but it does help substantiate the theory as a robust scientific theory.
When considering the criterion of observable evidence I make the distinction between observation and what is empirical. Something may be observed and qualify as evidence even though it’s not related to material causes. This is where the distinction between Duhemian science and Augustinian science must be made. I would deny the use of Duhemian science. This method, or philosophy, has a goal of stripping science from all metaphysical imports. Augustinian science is open to metaphysical presuppositions with science. In the mid 1800’s William Whewell was the first to restrict science to only mean natural science. Pierre Duhem followed this idea and constructed a methodology, which barred explanations to material causes. For instance, agent causation is completely compatible with Augustinian science but is prohibited as a scientific explanation in Duhemian science. Agent causation is something that can be observed but isn’t necessarily reductionistic in the material sense as with material causation because agent causation has metaphysical import.
read more »
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
read more »
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.
read more »
July 26th, 2012
A theory is distinct from a mere scientific explanation. Scientific explanation requires a causal explanation, which requires a law-governed explanation. Natural law describes but does not explain natural phenomena. Newton’s law of universal gravitation described, but did not explain, what caused gravitational attraction. Theories unify empirical regularities and describe the underlying process that accounts for these phenomena. Within theories are axioms, a small set of postulates, which are not proved in the axiom system but assumed to be true.
A theory goes beyond natural laws and scientific explanations in explaining the scientific explanations. A theory refers to a body of explanatory hypotheses for which there is strong support. Theories are a conjunction of axioms (of the laws of nature) and correspondence of rules specified in a formalized ideal language. This ideal language is composed of three parts: logical terms, observational terms, and theoretical terms. The logical terms were initially treated as analytic claims (particularly under the hypothetico-deductive model). Observational claims were to be unproblematic, understood as referring to incorrigible sense-data and later to publicly available physical objects. Correspondence rules were used to connect theoretical language to observational claims.
read more »
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?
read more »
May 3rd, 2012
Have you ever heard, “Well, that’s just a theory” or “a theory hasn’t been proven.” You’ll find quite a bit of this in regards to evolution–”Well, evolution is just a theory.” Objecting to a theory because it is ‘just a theory’ is a misunderstanding of what a theory really is. Please take the time to understand what a scientific theory really is.
A theory is distinct from a mere scientific explanation. Scientific explanation requires a causal explanation, which requires a law-governed explanation. Natural law describes but does not explain natural phenomena. Newton’s law of universal gravitation described, but did not explain, what caused gravitational attraction. Theories unify empirical regularities and describe the underling process that account for these phenomena. Within theories are axioms, a small set of postulates, which are not proved in the axiom system but assumed to be true.
A theory goes beyond natural laws and scientific explanations in explaining the scientific explanations. A theory refers to a body of explanatory hypotheses for which there is strong support. Theories are a conjunction of axioms (of the laws of nature) and correspondence of rules specified in a formalized ideal language.
read more »