Journal for General Philosophy of Science (2021)

Authors
Nicholas Maxwell
University College London
Abstract
According to Karl Popper, science cannot verify its theories empirically, but it can falsify them, and that suffices to account for scientific progress. For Popper, a law or theory remains a pure conjecture, probability equal to zero, however massively corroborated empirically it may be. But it does just seem to be the case that science does verify empirically laws and theories. We trust our lives to such verifications when we fly in aeroplanes, cross bridges and take modern medicines. We can do some justice to this apparent capacity of science to verify if we make a number of improvements to Popper’s philosophy of science. The key step is to recognize that physics, in accepting unified theories only, thereby makes a big metaphysical assumption about the nature of the universe. The outcome is a conception of scientific method which facilitates the criticism and improvement of metaphysical assumptions of physics. This view provides, not verification, but a perfect simulacrum of verification indistinguishable from the real thing.
Keywords Karl Popper  Falsification  Verification  Metaphysics of science  Theory unity  Scientific progress  Scientific method  Problem of induction
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Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1007/s10838-021-09570-6
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References found in this work BETA

Conjectures and Refutations.K. Popper - 1963 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 21 (3):431-434.
Explanation and Scientific Understanding.Michael Friedman - 1974 - Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):5-19.
The Inference to the Best Explanation.Gilbert H. Harman - 1965 - Philosophical Review 74 (1):88-95.
Explanatory Unification.Philip Kitcher - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.
Popper’s Qualitative Theory of Verisimilitude.David Miller - 1974 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 25 (2):166-177.

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