Falsifiability and Corroboration in Karl Popper's Philosophy of Science.

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Ndubuisi, N.F
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University of Lagos
There are a number of crucial issues involved in the study of the philosophy of science. These include the problem of methodology of science, the factors that could enhance the advancement of science, the question of truth and certainty in science as well as the issue of rationality of scientific discoveries. A number of ideologies have emerged in response to the challenges posed by the above issues. The relativists, for instance, see scientific truth in terms of a period of reference, environment and orientation. To the realist, a statement in science is either true or false - there is no mid-way between the two. The instrumentalists are rather interested in the function that theories play in science. The see theories as necessary instruments in science essentially meant to make prediction. The logical positivists are interested both in the methodology of science as well as the relationship between science and metaphysics. On methodology, they advocate induction as the procedure in scientific research. They, in agreement with this methodology, use their principle of verifiability and confirmability to dismiss the propositions of metaphysics as nonsensical, and as having no bearing in the acquisition of knowledge. Popper came to the scene amidst the above unsettling problems to propose a methodology that was both intellectually tasking as well as controversal. His thesis of 'falsification and corroboration' (which is incidentally the focus of this research) is no doubt very controversial. He posits that at any point in time that a scientist is at work, he is either falsifying or corroborating a theory. And all theories or laws in science, he says are forever conjectures, as none of them is immune from refutation in the immediate future. He did not agree with the Positivists that metaphysical propositions are nonsensical and meaningless. But he emphasised the need to demarcate the two, since each of them has a different method of approach. He thus uses falsification as a criterion on demarcation between science and metaphysics. Any theory that is falsifiable belongs to the family of empirical science while the non-falsifiable ones are metaphysical. Popper also rejected the principles of induction as part of the methodology of science. This principle, he argues, can lead to infinite regress. Popper's thesis, as earlier on remarked, is very controversial and in fact, unacceptable to us. In the course of this research, we disagree entirely with his thesis of falsification. We want to state too, contrary to his position, that induction is a methodology of scientific investigation. Even his falsifiability and corroboration thesis is arrived at inductively. We want to state too, that scientific knowledge is cumulative - it is this that makes for progress in scientific endeavour. Besides, Popper's position that theories remain conjectures forever is not acceptable to us. Critical attitude, as advocated by him, can quite bring progress to science: but our own conception of the dynamism of science is not the context of constant changes of scientific theories, as he wants us to believe. Thus, the purpose of this study is to have a critical evaluation of Popper's thesis of 'falsification and corroboration' with a view to establishing its rationally or otherwise. We also want to articulate the features that are necessary for the advancement of science as an academic enterprise. We believe too that at the end of the research we shall be able to enunciate an appropriate and relevant science culture for Nigeria.
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Methodology of Science , Falsifiability and Corroboration
Ndubuisi, N.F (1990) Falsifiability and Corroboration in Karl Popper's Philosophy of Science. University of Lagos School of Postgraduate Studies Phd Thesis and Dissertation Abstracts. 327pp.