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Logic & Scientific Philosophy

Karl Popper & Scientific Objectivity ~Lazar & Deven


Karl Popper stated very simply that science can only get as true as long as one cannot deem it false. This is his theory of falsification, regarding that in science, one can never reach 100% objectivity; that a scientific theory will infinitely approach this asymptotic mark we call truth. For example, Galileo disproving that our planet is the center of our solar system and Einstein redefining the method of which we consider the gravitational pulls among interstellar masses from Newtons original gravitational theory.

Although Popper nicely answers our question, which I do mostly agree with, I still remain persistent and a little disagreeing with the concept of science being nonobjective. With that, I went and searched for the definition of science, which states:  knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation (Note: this is only one definition, there are many, however they all float around the same vicinity). The thing about science is that it is used to create facts, with the least subjectivity as possible, and to distinguish these facts with the most accuracy as possible. In the out come, a fact is only one element, meaning, that even though many different people can view and consider the function of a box in many different ways, in the end, it is still cubic object and that doesn’t change. It will be the same shape for everyone, the only difference is other’s may name it differently and use it differently.

During our class discussion, it was stated that there are many different processes that reach the same answer; therefore, it is ones opinion on which process is the best, creating subjectivity. Science is the same process no matter which sect is used to determine an answer (Or even which method in a certain sect). This means, even though there are many different ways to reach the same answer in science, these methods are conducted within science itself; ergo, the process is not an opinion, it may merely be a detour or a shortcut. For instance, say one wanted to travel to downtown Vancouver using some method of motorized transportation. One could drive, take the train, sky-train, or bus, but in all, you are still reaching the same destination using the same conception of methods. One could not reach downtown Vancouver by walking and consider it a “motorized method of transportation.” Let’s re-input this analogy into our reality. Lets say science is considered a  “motorized method of transportation,”  and a religious view (Any religion, just using it’s concept as an example) is considered a “self propelled method of transportation” (Such as walking). In order for you to arrive to your destination using science, you would need to take the bus, train, car, etc. While for you to reach your destination with a religious stand point, one would need  walk, bike, etc. Okay so where am I going with this?

Within the previous two paragraph, two conclusions can be drawn, regarding the process of scientific discovery and the out come. firstly, since science within itself is all one opinion, every different method used in science to determine an answer is still the same opinion, only, each method can be either a detour or a shortcut (Sometimes even equivalent). This does not change the opinion, and the truth of the answer if every method arrives to an equivalent out come. Thus, we can deem the process objective, and that’s exactly what science was made to do, remove possibility of subjectivity within determinations of answers. How bout the objectivity of the out come of science? This where our dear friend Karl Popper jumps in.

Lets refer back to the example of the “Box.” A box, no matter how it is viewed is still the same shape and object. However, how does one universally define this object? More significantly, how does one determine the “true” truth about this object? In other words, if we consider our universe, how can we ever create a definition of a constant property which can never change among everyone’s view, such as how the “box” will always remain cubic. The point is we cannot because there will always be room for improvement or new ideas re-describing these constant properties (Such as, on day the box may be deemed to be an imperfect square; therefore, it is no longer cubic). Falsification clears out this predicament by simply deeming everything that is not currently false, true. For example, the universe is expanding, the universe is rotating; both, not necessarily true, but considered so due to no false identity of these theories. As previously stated in the introduction, the “truth” will approach the definite truth infinity long, as it is not proven false.

Concluding, the scientific process is in fact objective, because different methods within it’s vicinity is still influenced under the same basis of opinion. While, on the other hand, the out come of a scientific process can never be deemed 100% objective, because one can always redefine constant properties that are viewed identically, by all. Science is objectively subjective, in a way.

So I will leave you with this, what happens if (and if possible) Karl Popper’s theory of falsification is falsified?

~Lazar Atanackovic



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