POPPER AND THE WORKING SCIENTIST ON LOGIC AND METHOD OF SCIENCE

BY

IFECHUKWU J. NDINEFOO, PhD, SENIOR LECTURER,

DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY, NNAMDI AZIKIWE UNIVERSITY, AWKA, NIGERIA.

Abstract

The maturity of science in the physics of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton brought with it philosophical, logical and methodological questions of its development. Such questions crystallized in robust, fecund and, sometimes acerbic, debates on the philosophy, logic and method of science amongst scientists and philosophers. This is to be expected because every mature discipline lays its rational foundation and defines its boundary by its philosophy, logic and method and these questions hardly go without debates. Karl Popper’s philosophical and methodological writings were mainly dedicated to articulating the rational foundation and logical-cum-methodological boundaries of science striving, in so doing, to demarcate science between non-science. Popper’s tool in the effort to demarcate science and non-science is his methodological criterion of falsficationism propounded in his magnum opus, Logic of Scientific Discovery 1968. The thesis of falsificationism is that a scientist should strive to falsify his theory and not to confirm it. This is contrary to the traditional inductivist or verificationist methodology of searching for confirming instances. Popper conceives the falsificationist methodology as a bulwark against dogmatism in science and authoritarianism in politics. But the scientist in his daily work employs induction and its attendant assumptions and questions the claim that a scientist should work to falsify his theory, among other heuristic components of falsificationism. Thus, a fortuitous debate ensued between Popper and his supporters on one hand, and the working scientist and his supporters, on the other hand. The result is a rich corpus on the logic and method of science. This essay x-rays such debate between Popper and the working scientist and, in so doing, contributes to the corpus.

KEYWORDS: WORKING SCIENTIST, LOGIC, METHOD, FALSIFICATIONISM, SCIENCE.

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