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Science and Illusions

Scorzato, Luigi (2015) Science and Illusions. [Preprint]

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Abstract

It is mostly agreed that Popper's criterion of falsifiability fails to provide a useful demarcation between science and pseudo-science, because ad-hoc assumptions are always able to save any theory that conflicts with the empirical data (a.k.a. Duhem-Quine problem), and a characterization of ad-hoc assumptions is lacking. Moreover, adding some testable predictions is not very difficult. It should be emphasized that the Duhem-Quine argument does not simply make the demarcation approximate (if it were so, all our problems would be solved!), but it makes it totally useless. Indeed, no philosophical criterion of demarcation is presently able to rule out even some of the most blatant cases of pseudo-science, not even approximatively (in any well defined sense of approximation). This is in sharp contrast with our firm belief that some theories are clearly not scientific. Where does this belief come from? In this paper I argue that it is necessary and possible to recognize the notion of syntactic simplicity that is able to tell the difference between empirically equivalent scientific and non-scientific theories, with a precision that is adequate to many important practical purposes, and it fully agrees with the judgments generally held in the scientific community.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Scorzato, Luigiluigi@scorzato.it
Additional Information: inexact statement corrected (Jan 2019)
Keywords: Demarcation, pseudoscience, simplicity
Subjects: General Issues > Science and Policy
General Issues > Science vs. Pseudoscience
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory Change
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Dr. Luigi Scorzato
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2019 02:59
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2019 02:59
Item ID: 15570
Subjects: General Issues > Science and Policy
General Issues > Science vs. Pseudoscience
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory Change
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 10 August 2015
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15570

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