Posts tagged ‘theory’

March 2nd, 2015

Kuhn on Scientific Paradigms

by Max Andrews

Thomas Kuhn Scientific RevolutionsKuhn on Scientific Revolutions and Paradigm Shifts

  • Scientific revolutions are here taken to be those non-cumulative developmental episodes in which an older paradigm is replaced in whole or in part by an incompatible new one. Paradigms are incommensurable (no common measure—can we really do that and still talk about different models?). (g. planets)
    • “Suddenly the fragments in my head sorted themselves out in a new way, and fell into place together. My jaw dropped, for all at once Aristotle seemed a very good physicist indeed, but of a sort I’d never dreamed possible. Now I can understand why he had said what he’d said, and what his authority had been. Statements that previously seemed egregious mistakes, now seemed at worst near misses within a powerful and generally successful tradition.”[1]
  • When paradigms enter into a debate about paradigm choice, their role is necessarily circular. Each group uses its own paradigm to argue in that paradigm’s defense. (This circularity doesn’t necessarily make the arguments wrong or ineffectual.)
    • There’s no such thing as paradigm independent data. Interpreting the data is paradigm specific. There is no theory-neutral data. No theory-neutral data ≠ objective knowledge. (Kuhn claimed this criticism was the result of a misunderstanding of him.) He claimed that when a scientific revolution occurs, “The world changes.” (He wanted to apply Scientific Revolutions to the contemporary science of his day but was constantly having to modify his philosophy in responding to critics.)
    • Anomalies: The parallax of the angles between stars and the earth every six months. The lack of difference between angles was thought to show a Ptolemaic universe; however, the Copernican view allowed for this by suggesting that the angles were insignificant to their measurements (technological limitation) because the stars were too far away. Anomalies may also simply be ignored or counted as, simply, irrelevant until they build an undercutting consensus.

December 20th, 2013

Science without Epistemology is Impossible

by Max Andrews

A robust epistemology is a sufficient condition for a successful pursuit of scientific inquiry.  There are many other factors and conditions that must be met for science but a vigorous epistemic model for how one pursues scientific inquiry is needed; otherwise, there may be sufficient reasons to doubt not only the conclusions of the scientific inquiry but as well as the pool of data, which must be assessed appropriately.  The scientist is more than welcome to pursue an empiricist model for his epistemology, though strict [naturalistic] empiricism is not very robust, but it must have certain allowances for metaphysical import—perhaps more rationalistic.

I believe the best way to construct a robust epistemology and scientific method is to be a realist.  What I mean by this is that the external reality is how it appears to be to an observer making an epistemic inquiry, the measurements from science accurately depicts reality.  This is in contrast to instrumentalism/anti-realism, which suggests that our inquiry of the world, scientifically, do not accurately depict reality but as useful fictions.  An instrumentalist is more concerned about data fitting theories and predictions than with an accurate depiction of reality.

For the scientific realist, the ontology of the world determines one’s epistemology.  They congruently correspond.  It is important to note the order of entailment.  Antecedently, reality determines our epistemology. 

November 8th, 2013

The Metaphysical Multiverse

by Max Andrews

Regularity theory (RT) attempts to account for laws in a descriptive manner contra the necessitarian position (NT), which expresses the laws of nature as nomic necessity.  According to the RT the fundamental regularities are brute facts; they neither have nor require an explanation.  Regularity theorists attempt to formulate laws and theories in a language where the connectives are all truth functional.  Thus, each law is expressed with a universal quantifier as in [(x) (Px ⊃ Qx)].[1]  The NT 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.[2]  Thus, NT maintains must-statements are not adequately captured by is-statements (must ≠ is, or certain facts are unaccounted for).[3]

January 14th, 2013

Q&A 6: Scientism and Inference to the Best Explanation

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Max,

I want to run something by you to get your opinion.  The KCA and fine-tuning arguments are presented as philosophical/logical arguments with some scientific premises.  Some skeptics that don’t like philosophy will dismiss it and appeal to scientism.

But if we look at something like the detection and declaration of black holes, aren’t they doing the same things?  They aren’t looking at direct observation but instead looking at effects and making inferences to the best explanation for the cause.  If that is accepted as science then the KCA and the fine-tuning arguments should be as well.

I’m not interested in declaring the KCA and fine-tuning to be science but I’m thinking that an analogy such as this might be useful when a skeptic cries god-of-the-gap.

Bill, USA

November 26th, 2012

Call for Papers on the Philosophy of Science and Science

by Max Andrews

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 »

  • June 14th, 2012

    Necessitarian Theory and Why Logical Positivists Attempt to Avoid Nomic Necessity

    by Max Andrews

    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.[1]  Thus, NT maintains must-statements are not adequately captured by is-statements (must ≠ is, or certain facts are unaccounted for).[2]  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.[3]  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?

    May 3rd, 2012

    Why You Need to Know What a Scientific Theory Is

    by Max Andrews

    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.[1]

    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.[2]  Theories are a conjunction of axioms (of the laws of nature) and correspondence of rules specified in a formalized ideal language. 

    April 22nd, 2012

    Can Scientists Pursue Science Successfully Apart From a Robust Epistemology? Part 2

    by Max Andrews

    For the first part please see: Can Scientists Pursue Science Successfully Apart From a Robust Epistemology? Part 1

    The reason why inferential beliefs are so important is that one’s scientific method cannot be contrary to one’s epistemic method.  With that said, certain models for scientific explanation must have justificatory acceptance.  For example, a deductive form of scientific inquiry cannot be the only means acceptable since one cannot have a deductive form of epistemology since all beliefs would be self-justified and self-preserved (at least this would not account for a robust epistemology).

    Such methods are derived from the use of abductive reasoning.  The American philosopher and logician Charles Sanders Peirce first described abduction.  He noted that, unlike inductive reasoning, in which a universal law or principle is established from repeated observations of the same phenomena, and unlike deductive reasoning, in which a particular fact is deduced by applying a general law to another particular fact or case, abductive reasoning infers unseen facts, events, or causes in the past from clues or facts in the present.[1]

    April 21st, 2012

    Can Scientists Pursue Science Successfully Apart From a Robust Epistemology? Part 1

    by Max Andrews

    A robust epistemology is a sufficient condition for a successful pursuit of scientific inquiry.  There are many other factors and conditions that must be met for science but a vigorous epistemic model for how one pursues scientific inquiry is needed; otherwise, there may be sufficient reasons to doubt not only the conclusions of the scientific inquiry but as well as the pool of data, which must be assessed appropriately.  The scientist is more than welcome to pursue an empiricist model for his epistemology, though strict [naturalistic] empiricism is not very robust, but it must have certain allowances for metaphysical import—perhaps more rationalistic.

    I believe the best way to construct a robust epistemology and scientific method is to be a realist.  What I mean by this is that the external reality is how it appears to be to an observer making an epistemic inquiry, the measurements from science accurately depicts reality.  This is in contrast to instrumentalism/anti-realism, which suggests that our inquiry of the world, scientifically, do not accurately depict reality but as useful fictions.  An instrumentalist is more concerned about data fitting theories and predictions than with an accurate depiction of reality.

    March 28th, 2012

    The Laws of Nature and the Metaphysical Multiverse

    by Max Andrews

    Regularity theory (RT) attempts to account for laws in a descriptive manner contra the necessitarian position (NT), which expresses the laws of nature as nomic necessity.  According to the RT the fundamental regularities are brute facts; they neither have nor require an explanation.  Regularity theorists attempt to formulate laws and theories in a language where the connectives are all truth functional.  Thus, each law is expressed with a universal quantifier as in [(x) (Px ⊃ Qx)].[1]  The NT 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.[2]  Thus, NT maintains must-statements are not adequately captured by is-statements (must ≠ is, or certain facts are unaccounted for).[3]

    The role of counterfactuals serves to make distinctions in regularities.  Concerning the RT and counterfactuals the regularist may claim that laws do not purport what will always occur but what would have occurred if things were different.  NT claims that it is difficult for RT 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.[4]  This is only a mere negative assertion on behalf of NT and carries no positive reason to adopt the NT position.  However, RT does have a limited scope in explanation. C.D. Broad argued that the very fact that laws entail counterfactuals is incompatible with regularity theory.[5]  He suggests that counterfactuals are either false or trivially true. If it is now true that Q occurs if P causally precedes Q then the regularist may sufficiently account for past 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, RT accounts for past counterfactuals, but this is trivially true.  However, in positive favor of the NT, there is no reason to expect the world to continue to behave in a regular manner as presupposed by the practice of induction.  Consider Robin Collins’ illustration of this point: