The Philosophy of Science

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by ~The_Chosen~, Aug 16, 2002.

  1. ~The_Chosen~ Registered Senior Member

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    Let us suppose that an ichthyologist is exploring the life of the ocean. He casts a net into the water and brings up a fishy assortment. Surveying his catch, he proceeds in the usual manner of a scientist to systematize what it reveals. He arrives at two generalizations:

    1. No sea-creature is less than two inches long.
    2. All sea-creatures have gills.

    These are both true of his catch, and he assures tentatively that they will remain true however often he repeats it.
    In applying this analogy, the catch stands for the body of knowledge which constitutes physical science, and the net for the sensory and intellectual equipment which we use in obtaining it. The casting of the net corresponds to observation; for knowledge which has not been or could not be obtained by observation is not admitted into physical science.
    An onlooker may object that the first generalization is wrong. "There are plenty of sea-creatures under two inches long, only your net is not adapted to catch them." The ichthyologist dismisses this objection contemptuously. "Anything uncatchable by my net is ispo facto outside the scope of ichthyological knowledge, and is not part of the kingdom of fishes which has been defined as the theme of ichthyological knowledge. In short, what my net can't catch isn't fish." Or--to translate the analogy--"If you are not simply guessing, you are claiming knowledge of the physcial universe discovered in some other way than by the methods of physical science, and admittedly unverifiable by such methods. You are a meta-physician. Bah!"

    - Sir Arthur Eddington
     
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  3. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    What is your personal interpretation of the quoted piece that we might make comment on it?
     
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  5. pragmathen 0001 1111 Registered Senior Member

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    Out of the mouths of fish

    This could be interpreted in two ways, I'd guess.

    I'd say that the scientist that dismisses further evidence is not a scientist. If he makes a device that nets two-inch long fish and then surmises that only two-inch long fish exist in this particular lake of water, then he is correct in his assumption. Until proven otherwise. It doesn't make sense for the scientist to relegate revelatory evidence to the back-burner merely because it doesn't jive with his previous findings. Unless evidence can be duplicated and quantified by others, the scientist does not hold onto a true theory or hypothesis. (I'm guessing <b>Cris</b> could put this much more succinctly and correctly than myself). Thus the scientist in the story is not actually a scientist, since he bases his understanding on his findings alone and does not update them from time to time as new findings arise.

    Therefore, this story can only be the second interpretation. Namely, those that dismiss evidence to the contrary and only hold onto their own personal conjectures of truth can not speak for others. The non-scientist that says he only sees two-inch long fish regardless of what others dredge up out of the body of water refuses to see what others have discovered.

    In the <i>Allegory of the Cave</i>, Socrates talks about how the man only believes (even after he is presented with contrary evidence) what he has imagined all along. The shadows on the wall cast from the light behind are the only reality he knows, so that's what he believes. Even though that's ultimately just one facet of reality, the man continues in his rut of thinking because he refuses to know anything else.

    Thanks!

    prag
     
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  7. ~The_Chosen~ Registered Senior Member

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    It's an analogy and it's makes a clear point.

    I'm not pulling an Adam here so hold your horses!

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    Why did you state that and NOT make your own personal interpretation of the quoted piece? You need me to do it first??!

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    Anyway...



    Actually, it was never meant to be "interpretated." Just an analogy that makes a point. But you've made things interesting so I will digress and interpret also.

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    You are tackling the analogy, so it could get more complicated, yet can be interesting.

    I say he is a scientist.

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    I'll elaborate and analyze: (these can be interpreted many ways)



    That is the knowledge Physical Science possesses. Just that catch.



    The limits of science. But still a useful tool in acquiring knowledge.



    This remains true of science. We cannot actually admit anything into physical science if it is not obtained by observation.

    We observe first then systematize.



    Notice...the net is the sensory and intellectual tool for obtaining knowledge for Physical Science.

    So if this tool cannot catch other things then its reasonable to say whatever it doesn't catch is not fish.

    Why don't we take a look at another analogy?

    If I can't read something (through English), it isn't English.



    Why do you say do?



    His findings "alone" are his only ways in the realm of physical science. Anything outside that realm is not physical science.

    Anything outside of English is not English.



    Note:



    Physical science requires the analyzing of nature, properties of energy, etc. This holds for physicists, chemists, astronomers, et al.

    The only verifiable method is through the realm of physical science.



    Some great points there

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    I enjoyed your post.

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  8. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    ~The Chosen~,
    I wasn't making a value judgement. I was just casting a net.

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    pragmathen,

    Upon first reading I came away with that possible interpretation, too--probably due to the presence of this line:
    But re-reading it, the scientist is being contemptuous of peoples' use of 'unconventional', non-scientific tools to come by knowledge not knowable to science's methodolies.

    So, your second interpretation really is more the point: that, people who offer as evidence that which others cannot see themselves are offering no evidence of practical use at all.
     
  9. fadingCaptain are you a robot? Valued Senior Member

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    I'll get to the meat of it:

    In the real world a scientist will say "Show me evidence of these sea creatures." If there is sufficient evidence, his theories/generalizations are modified.

    The analogy falls flat on its face.
     
  10. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    --Under Construction--

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  11. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

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    Saddest of all ...

    He who leaves the cave and having seen 'reality', returns because
    of a great aloneness ... and discovers he is even more alone.


    *Modified*
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2002
  12. ~The_Chosen~ Registered Senior Member

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    Hater!!



    Have you yet?

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    You first need to distinguish if the analogy is either rhetorical or logical.

    What you think?

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    Point is, the only verifiable way to get "evidence" is through that net. If the net can't catch it, do you think it shall be evidence for Physical Science?

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    Why? Nice analogy of an analogy though...

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    "What is your interpretation of others that we might make a comment on?"

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  13. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    Touche'

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    Well, um. Er. Ah.... If you must know, I posted there a response intended for another thread and, upon realizing my error, erased it but left in its place a marker, but never returned to reply.

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    Junkhead --Alice in Chains
     

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