Supersummary of logic and philosophy of science i
This is the Supersummary of Logic and Philosophy of Science I.
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A Supersummary, as the name may suggest, is a super summarized summary of all the content a course, in one page.
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- Aristotelian logic is mainly composed by syllogisms, which use deduction to understand the world.
Syllogisms can’t be used to explain first principles: by doing so we would have an infinite regression. To understand them, we ought use a faculty of the name of nous to inductively perceive their essence.
- Francis Bacon confronts, after centuries, the validity of Aristotelian logic by proposing that all of our experience comes from the senses.
Nevertheless, he explains that induction alone can’t form a solid basis for science: men are naturally limited and misleaded by Idols. Therefore, experience has not to be randomly collected, on the basis of a rather undefined sensibility as Aristotle points out, but by sorting collected data on the basis of rational criteria.
- Hume in Logic and Philosophy of Science I pinpoints a problem about the inductive method: we are taking for granted the uniformity of nature: if the grounds of our knowledge come from experience, it needs to be implicitly accepted that what is going to happen in the future is following the same rules, the same laws, the same criteria, of what happened up to now.
There’s no logical reason whatsoever for man to rely on induction; yet, since humanity abundantly uses it anyway, the reason must be psychological: to Hume, it is derived from custom, that is to say the repetition of similar events. Such repetition make us expect something even if it’s not logically justifiable.
- Bertrand Russel observes that, since absolute and complete certainty are out of the equation, everything becomes a matter of probability: the more an event occurs with the same behavior, the more we can justify our expectations.
Induction gives us an asymptotic approach to certainty: it will never be reached.\
- Hans Reichenbach believes that in the end it’s a matter of gambling: induction is our best bet to get to true knowledge, but we don’t know it a priori. We posit: we deal with propositions as true even if we have no certainty they are so.
Reichenbach replies to Russel writing that everything shouldn’t and isn’t abandoned to chance, but induction, even if possibly unreliable, is our best bet anyways. No problem about Hume is solved: it’s only closed with this Pragmatic Justification.
- Logical Positivism is an early XX century movement which based all of its arguments on the fact the scientificity of a proposition is measured with no other means except experience and logic.
L. positivists are pure inductivists: Philosophy may suggest interpretations or raise doubts, but it shouldn’t interfere with the content of science. As the name of the current points out, the method of science is purely, exclusively and strictly logic; the aim is to define a unique logical method for every science.
Valid statements are statements which are analytic a priori or synthetic a posteriori: not only the truth of a statement is important, Logical Positivists mainly focus on its verifiability, which is both a criterion of meaning and a test to understand the validity of a statement.
- Alfred Jules Ayer is the first and most important British Logical Positivist; he takes the distances from a strict logical positivist perspective by affirming that the meaningfulness of a statement derives from its verifiability in principle, and not practically so.
According to Ayer, positivist verifiability is too strong, since, given a finite number of observations, it is impossible to definitely verify a statement. The verifiability criterion should be weaker: a proposition is verifiable in the weak sense
if it is possible for experience to render it probable
- Peter Frederick Strawson ???
- Karl Popper shares Hume’s logic argument about induction, but dislikes his psychological explanation: expectations are sometimes formed even before a second occurrence of an event.
Similarities among events are imposed by us: it’s man who naturally looks for repetitions in nature, even without having the slightest logical basis to support them. Man proceeds by trial and error.
Form his psychological theory for the use of induction, Popper develops his critical reformulation of the whole philosophy of science, sustaining a shift in the paradigm of the scientific method: falsification must be used as a deductive method used to falsify universal statements with contingent observations. +++
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