Not exactly. The guy is not an idiot for making a proper philosophical point.
Anyone who wants to think its relevant to the real world is the one with the problem, not the guy who said it.
Case in point... how many times have we heard this old tired one?
You can't prove a negative.
Er... what? Of course you can. We do it every day.
What was meant by the statement is a philosophical musing pretty much useful only as that. A point of interest.
That's pretty much what philosophy is. It rarely has relevance to real life in a practical sense.
You may have cause to believe in a silopsist view for example, but you aren't going anywhere with that thought practically speaking. Even if all you percieve to be "real" *is* all in your head, it still makes sense to proceed as if reality were "real".
Thank you very much for explaining that to me Scrogg! I understand 'philosophy' in common terms, not a high-educated academic understanding. I was then perhaps too strong labeling the philosophy-guy an idiot. I still think he is an idiot in a pointy-headed sort of way, and factually wrong. But if it is all just speculation with unlimited truths and no concrete answers, I can file it away as non-sense such as with tatoo-art. I personally have no interest, but if others want to dabble I don't care as long as it is not pressed on me.
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Quite true. But for most of your post, you were not demonstrating thinking about thinking. Instead, you demonstrated thinking about observations.
Quite a different thing.
Not only that, but patterns of thought themselves evolve by physical confirmations.
As one of my favorite physicists Feynman once said;
Scientifically speaking, without confirmation, it really doesn't matter what one may think! Though it is true that thought can lead us to why a certain confirmation might be relevant.
And you've just shown why astrophyisics is generally considered a theoretical science rather than a practical one. There sure is a lot of THOUGHT about the observations, isn't there?
Much of philosophy is in fact derived from observations of the relations between reason and empirical objects, their relations and events. So we have the objects out there in the world then we have the statements made of them by scientists then finally the philosophers attempting to take that transcendent view point of both.
Mr Feynman, surely you're joking?
Confirmation is unfortunately a formal fallacy - it is that one fallacy that Karl Popper tried to overcome.
If it is raining then the roads will be wet.
The roads are wet.
Therefore it is raining.
That form of argument (If P then Q, Q, Ergo P) is called the fallacy of affirming the consequent. The problem it gives scientists is that no theory about the world out there can ever be confirmed - no theory about the world out there could possibly be proved - proof is not a term available when talking of the world.
Popper tried to demonstrate that the one feature that demarcates science from pseudo science is the principle of falsification.
If it is raining then the roads will be wet.
The roads are not wet.
Therefore it is not raining.
That form of argument (If P then Q, ~Q, Ergo ~P) is called the valid form of denying the consequent. Karl Popper argued that science is about bending over backward to prove your theories wrong. So science then is said to depend on dis-confirmations. Theories not yet falsified are considered corroborated but not confirmed and certainly not true.
But there are problems even with the doctrine of falsification. Aristotle argued:
If the earth orbits the sun then there will be an observable parallax of the stars
There is no observable parallax of the stars
Therefore the earth does not orbit the sun.
The problem here is with the fallibility of observation statements. The observation statement "there is no observable parallax of the stars" is false.
A problem then further with the doctrine of falsification is that if a theory is falsified by some observation then the logic falsifying the theory cannot tell us whether it is the theory that is false or one or another of the myriad of auxiliary hypothesis.
Nature keeps throwing non intuitive events (curve balls) our way - like the discovery last century that stars orbiting black holes at the centres of the galaxies do not do so as planets orbit stars - and so dark matter and dark energy have had to be postulated in order to explain such even though we do not yet know if either actually exist.
I am two classes away from finishing my master's degree with a minor in philosophy. Most of what is being posted here is nonsense!
Philosophy is my major - I would be very interested to read your reasoning all the way from the arguments made in these posts through the very complex processes of critical analysis right up to the conclusion offered that most of what is being posted here is false or nonsense. You seem hugely ambitious, Hugh
We can appreciate Lakatos's point by considering a single example: Newton's theory of gravitation. Newton's theory says that every particle of matter in the universe attracts every other particle with a force according to an inverse square law. Newton's theory is a universal generalization that applies to every particle of matter, anywhere in the universe, at any time. But however numerous they might be, our observations of planets, falling bodies, and projectiles concern only a finite number of bodies during finite amounts of time. So the scope of Newton's theory vastly exceeds the scope of the evidence. It is possible that all our observations are correct, and yet Newton's theory is false because some bodies not yet observed violate the inverse square law. Since "All Fs are G" cannot be deduced from "Some Fs are G," it cannot be true that Newton's theory can be proven by logically deducing it from the evidence. As Lakatos points out, this prevents us from claiming that scientific theories, unlike pseudoscientific theories, can be proven from observational facts. The truth is that no theory can be deduced from such facts. All theories are unprovable, scientific and unscientific alike.
While conceding that scientific theories cannot be proven, most people still believe that theories can be made more probable by evidence. Lakatos follows Popper in denying that any theory can be made probable by any amount of evidence. Popper's argument for this controversial claim rests on the analysis of the objective probability of statements given by inductive logicians.
Consider a card randomly drawn from a standard deck of fifty-two cards. What is the probability that the card selected is the ten of hearts? Obviously, the answer is 1/52. There are fifty two possibilities, each of which is equally likely and only one of which would render true the statement "This card is the ten of hearts." Now consider a scientific theory that, like Newton's theory of gravitation, is universal. The number of things to which Newton's theory applies is, presumably, infinite. Imagine that we name each of these things by numbering them 1, 2, 3, . . . , n, . . . . There are infinitely many ways the world could be, each equally probable.
1 obeys Newton's theory, but none of the others do.
1 and 2 obey Newton's theory, but none of the others do.
1, 2, and 3 obey Newton's theory, but none of the others do.
All bodies (1, 2, 3, . . . , n, . . . ) obey Newton's theory.
Since these possibilities are infinite in number, and each of them has the same probability, the probability of any one of them must be O. But only one, the last one, represents the way the world would be if Newton's theory were true. So the probability of Newton's theory (and any other universal generalization) must be 0.
Now one might think that, even if the initial probability of a theory must be 0, the probability of the theory when it has been confirmed by evidence will be greater than 0. As it turns out, the probability calculus denies this. Let our theory be T, and let our evidence for T be E. We are interested in P(T/E), the probability of T given our evidence E. Bayes's theorem (which follows logically from the axioms of the probability calculus) tells us that this probability is:
P(T/E) = [P(E/T x P(T)]/P(E)
If the initial probability of T, that is P(T), is 0, then P(T/E) must also be O. Thus, no theory can increase in objective probability, regardless of the amount of evidence for it. For this reason, Lakatos joins Popper in regarding all theories, whether scientific or not, as equally unprovable and equally improbable.