The comment box was too small for my reply to Sober on falsification, so I will post it here:
I want to understand better Sober’s position on falsification. A pervasive idea to which many still subscribe, myself included, is that the heart of what makes inquiry scientific is the critical attitude: that if a claim or hypothesis or model fails to stand up to critical scrutiny it is rejected as false, and not propped up with various “face-saving” devices. Now
Sober writes “I agree that we can get rid of models that deductively entail (perhaps with the help of auxiliary assumptions) observational outcomes that do not happen. But as soon as the relation is nondeductive, is there ‘falsification’”?
My answer is yes, else we could scarcely retain the critical attitude for any but the most trivial scientific claims. While at one time philosophers imagined that “observational reports” were given, and could therefore form the basis for a deductive falsification of scientific claims, certainly since Popper, Kuhn and the rest of the post-positivists, we recognize that observations are error prone, as are appeals to auxiliary hypotheses. Here is Popper: Continue reading