A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF KARL POPPER’S FALSIFICATION PRINCIPLE

0
629

ABSTRACT

Karl popper was concerned with distinguishing science from pseudo-science; as well as a criterion of truth in science; and consequently his rejection of the verifiability principle of meaning since it does not adequately demarcate scientific statements, including majorly metaphysical, ethical and theological statements and this lead to his formulation of the falsifiability theory.  Popper did not accept the general belief that science uses inductive method to arrive at truth because any experiment carried out in this manner is inductive; and induction cannot be justified by induction. The procedure can only result in probability and never in truth, thus inductive generalisation is not justified. To show his contempt for induction, he argued that the principle of falsifiability be used to test the truth of hypotheses or theories. This principle emphasizes that a scientific statement or theory is true if and only if it can be verified, that is, tested by experience. The project of this paper is to discuss the inherent problem of verifiability principle; to show why Popper rejected it, and introduced falsification as a better option. The work will also examine the claims of Popper’s principle of testing scientific truths.    

CHAPTER ONE

1.1   INTRODUCTION/BACKGROUND OF STUDY  

        Falsification as a principle or theory which holds that for any hypothesis to be cognitively significant, true or scientific it must be inherently disprovable by experience before it can be accepted as a scientific hypothesis or theory. This principle is associated with the twentieth century Austrian- British Philosopher of science known as Sir Karl, Raimund Popper. Science is a discipline that is interested in trying to uncover or discover truths about nature; our natural environment and the world at large, this is why Archibong (89) conceives science as the systematic enterprise of gathering knowledge about the universe by organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories”. These laws and theories are used to give explanations to natural occurrences and make further predictions about the future.

        Scientific method is procedural, that is, it adheres strictly to laid down principles through which an objective knowledge is obtained. It is widely accepted that empirical science is that discipline which employs inductive methodology in the formulation of hypotheses or theories by observing a limited number of instances. Induction therefore becomes accepted by some scientists (inductivists) as a valuable method and practice in the scientific enterprise.

        It was based on this method of doing science which popper saw as problematic, that is, difficult to accept since it relied on an equally problematic principle of verifiability for the determination of its truth. The verifiability theory states that statements are cognitively significant or empirically tested if they can be conclusively verifiable by experience. Popper rejected this inductivists’ criterion of truth because it does not adequately provide a distinguishing feature between scientific and non-scientific statements and on the reason that “a theory can never be proven to be true by accumulating move and more positive observations (French 53).

        Hence, his postulation of the falsification theory as a better alternative for the criterion of science. The falsification theory states that a statement is meaningful or scientific  if it is falsifiable by experience or observation.

        This work will therefore be concerned with the analysis and a critical examination of Karl Popper’s falsification theory.