Explain Karl Popper's strategy of disconfirmation?
Karl Popper's philosophy of science uses modus tolens as the central method of disconfirming, or falsifying, scientific hypotheses. [ Scientists start with a current scientific theory and use the usual methods of deductive reasoning to derive specific conclusions, of which some are "predictions". Strictly deductive reasoning is "truth preserving", that is, it is such that if one starts out
with "true" premises, one can only deduce "true" conclusions. Starting with a "theory" and deducing
"predictions" can be stated in the form of a premise: If the theory is true, then the prediction is true.
Popper shows that we cannot prove that a theory is true, but we can certainly show that a prediction is false. If the scientist tests one of these predictions and finds out that it is not true, he uses good 'ole modus tolens to conclude that the theory cannot be true. If the theory is true, then the prediction is true.
The prediction is not true.
Therefore, the theory is not true.
The key feature of Popper's theory exemplified by the modus tolens argument is "critical testing". In order for critical testing to give valid results, the theory to be tested must be free from any "looseness"; Popper lists four criteria, or levels of evaluating, for determining whether a proposed theory is sufficiently "tight" to be admitted as a "scientific" theory.
We may if we like distinguish four different lines along which the testing of a theory could be carried out. First there is the logical comparison of the conclusions among themselves, by which the internal consistency of the system is tested. Secondly, there is the investigation of the logical form of the theory, with the object of determining whether it has the character of an empirical or scientific theory, or whether it is, for example, tautological. Thirdly, there is the comparison with other theories, chiefly with the aim of determining whether the theory would constitute a scientific advance should it survive our various tests. ]
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