falsification principle

falsification principle
   Suggested by Karl Popper, the falsification principle distinguishes scientific statements from non-scientific statements in virtue of their conceivable falsification. A highly influential application of the principle to religion is found in Antony Flew's contribution to the essay 'Theology and Falsification'. Flew presents a scenario, taken from John Wisdom, where two individuals enter a forest clearing, one convinced that it is tended by a gardener, the second remaining a sceptic. Through successive attempts by the sceptic to falsify the belief for instance by waiting in the bushes and erecting an electric fence to catch the gardener - the other keeps revising the attributes of the gardener, for example, he is invisible and can walk through fences. Clearly the belief in the gardener does not meet the principle of falsification. The gardener is of course meant as an analogy for belief in God, equally rendering such belief, and theological reflection on it, unscientific or even vacuous. Even if this did apply to a minimally defined theism, it would appear not to work for a religion like Christianity, which could conceivably be falsified either by empirical evidence (for example, historical evidence that the resurrection of Jesus was a hoax) or by demonstrating the incoherence of a central Christian belief (for example, the Trinity). A more basic difficulty for the principle is that it does not accurately describe the nature of scientific statements. As Imre Lakatos argued, a scientific hypothesis need not ever be falsified, so long as one adds supplementary hypotheses to explain prima facie contrary data. The real fate of unsuccessful scientific theories is not falsification but increased degeneracy until they are finally abandoned. As such, theological assertions are no more infinitely adaptable to countervailing evidence than scientific ones, and so theological statements are none the worse if they are not falsifiable.
   Further reading: Diamond and Litzenburg 1975; Flew and MacIntyre 1955; Popper 1996; Rosenberg 2000

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

Игры ⚽ Нужна курсовая?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • principle, falsification —    see falsification principle …   Christian Philosophy

  • falsification — falsification, falsificationism To falsify a knowledge claim is to provide evidence that it is false. Since the time of David Hume , empiricist philosophy of science has struggled with the problem of induction : namely, how is it possible to… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • verification/verifiability principle —    The central principle of logical positivism, the verification principle states that the meaning of non analytic statements is found in their conditions of verification. On this view, all non analytical statements that do not have verification… …   Christian Philosophy

  • Uncertainty principle — In quantum physics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that locating a particle in a small region of space makes the momentum of the particle uncertain; and conversely, that measuring the momentum of a particle precisely makes the… …   Wikipedia

  • positivism, logical —    A movement that arose out of the group of early twentieth century philosophers known as the Vienna Circle , whose members included Rudolf Carnap and Otto Neurath, logical positivism sought to reduce philosophy to science with the verification… …   Christian Philosophy

  • fallibilism —    Fallibilism is the position that some or all of our beliefs are liable to error and thus lack the maximum epistemic justification of certainty. Most philosophers today recognise fallibilism at least as regards some class of beliefs.… …   Christian Philosophy

  • Flew, Antony — (1923 )    An English philosopher, Flew, though son of a well known Methodist theologian, achieved lasting influence as a leading atheist through his essay Theology and Falsification , in which he compares belief in God to belief in an invisible… …   Christian Philosophy

  • science —    The modern meaning of science is something like a discipline that seeks a programmatic, ordered investigation into the operations of the natural world leading to the discovery of laws of nature and the consequent ability to predict the… …   Christian Philosophy

  • Falsifiability — Are all swans white? Falsifiability or refutability of an assertion, hypothesis or theory is the logical possibility that it can be contradicted by an observation or the outcome of a physical experiment. That something is falsifiable does not… …   Wikipedia

  • science, philosophy of — Branch of philosophy that attempts to elucidate the nature of scientific inquiry observational procedures, patterns of argument, methods of representation and calculation, metaphysical presuppositions and evaluate the grounds of their validity… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”