Sociology Index

FALSIFIABILITY OR REFUTABILITY

Falsifiability is a central tenet of science which demands that all claims or assertions investigated by science must be open to being proven false. If a researcher cannot define what would count as empirical evidence or experimental disproof of a claim then the claim itself must fall outside the domain of science.

The falsifiability tenet is consistent with the belief that in science it is possible to prove something false, but not to prove something true. In fact it is assumed that we can never prove something to be true, we can only fail to disprove something and therefore accept its truth for the time being. Science does not simply try to illustrate or demonstrate its theories or hypotheses, rather, it actively tries to disprove them.

A Note on Popper's Equation of Simplicity with Falsifiability - Peter Turney
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Mar., 1991),
Abstract: Karl Popper equates simplicity with falsifiability. He develops his argument for this equation through a geometrical example. There is a flaw in his example, which undermines his claim that simplicity is falsifiability. I point out the flaw here.

A Kuhnian Model of Falsifiability - Mark A. Stone
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 42, No. 2 (Jun., 1991)
Abstract: Thomas Kuhn has argued that scientists never reject a paradigm without simultaneously accepting a new paradigm. Coupled with Kuhn's claim that it is paradigms as a whole, and not individual theories, that are accepted or rejected, this thesis is seen as one of Kuhn's main challenges to the rationality of science. I argue that Kuhn is mistaken in this claim; at least in some instances, science rejects a paradigm despite the absence of a successor. In particular, such a description best fits Kuhn's most discussed example, the Copernican Revolution. By differentiating scientific discoveries into three types, spontaneous, implicit, and directed, we see that Kuhn's thesis holds for spontaneous and implicit discoveries, but not directed discoveries. Directed discoveries must be understood by an alternative account of falsifiability, based on argument by reductio ad absurdum rather than argument by modus tollens as traditional accounts of falsifiability would have it.

Openness to the Unknown 
The Role of Falsifiability in Search of Better Knowledge 
Yasuyuki Kageyama, Japan Popper Society 
From the time of its birth, Popper’s theory of falsifiability has been fiercely criticized from various viewpoints. In the author’s view, however, those various criticisms all have the same root in their assumption that a falsification must be certain and conclusive. As the theory of falsifiability has never had such an assumption, it is the source of misunderstanding. By discarding it, we can reply to every criticism and thereby clarify the role of falsifiability in our search for better knowledge; that is, it makes our attitude open to a yet unknown world.

On 'Falsification' and 'Falsifiability': The First Daubert Factor and the Philosophy of Science - DAVID H. KAYE, Arizona State University - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law 
Jurimetrics, Vol. 45 
Abstract: In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 593 (1993), the Supreme Court suggested that in evaluating the admissibility of scientific evidence, federal courts should consider whether a theory or technique . . . can be (and has been) tested. Several commentators have thought that this suggestion represents an adoption of the philosophy of science of Karl Popper, and several courts have treated the abstract possibility of falsification as sufficient to satisfy this aspect of the screening of scientific evidence. This essay challenges these views. It first explains the distinct meanings of falsification and falsifiability. It then argues that while the Court did not embrace the views of any specific philosopher of science, inquiring into the existence of meaningful attempts at falsification is an appropriate and crucial consideration in admissibility determinations. Consequently, it concludes that recent opinions substituting mere falsifiability for actual empirical testing are misconstruing and misapplying Daubert.

The Myth of Falsifiability By John F. McGowan, Ph.D. (January 7, 2000) - Falsifiability is not. an abstract notion. Federal courts have accepted precisely this argument in excluding the. teaching of so-called “creation science."