The Logic of Scientific Discovery

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Psychology Press, 2002 - Philosophy - 513 pages
3 Reviews
Described by the philosopher A.J. Ayer as a work of 'great originality and power', this book revolutionized contemporary thinking on science and knowledge. Ideas such as the now legendary doctrine of 'falsificationism' electrified the scientific community, influencing even working scientists, as well as post-war philosophy. This astonishing work ranks alongside The Open Society and Its Enemies as one of Popper's most enduring books and contains insights and arguments that demand to be read to this day.

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Review by Greg Nyquist
This is the book where Popper first introduced his famous "solution" to the problem of induction. Originally publish in German in 1934, this version is Popper's own English
translation undertaken in the 1950s. It should go without saying that the book is a classic in philosophic epistemology--perhaps the most important such work to appear since Hume's "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding." Popper argues that scientific theories can never be proven, merely tested and corroborated. Scientific inquiry is distinguished from all other types of investigation by its testability, or, as Popper put, by the falsifiability of its theories. Unfalsifiable theories are unscientific precisely because they cannot be tested.
Popper has always been known for his straightforward, lucid writing style. There are no books on epistemology that are as easy to read and understand than Popper's. Nonetheless, of all Popper's books, "Logic of Scientific Discovery" is easily the most difficult. I don't know whether it is because it was his first book or because it was originally written in German or because of all the technical problems in probability and quantum theory that are dealt within its pages. Whatever the reason, this book, despite its tremendous importance, cannot be recommended to those seeking an introduction to Popper's thinking (and Popper, whether you agree with his conclusions or not, is well worth getting to know). For those who merely want a rough overview of Popper's opinions, perhaps the best book is "Popper Selections," edited by David Miller. For those eager for more depth, I would recommend "Realism and the Aim of Science." Popper no where makes a better case for his epistemological views than in this eminently readable book. Further elaborations of Popper's views can be read in "Conjectures and Refutations" and "Objective Knowledge."
Popper has been severely attacked by philosophers who are offended by his bold fallibilism and anti-dogmatism. No philosopher attacked Popper more strenuously than David Stove. Stove's criticisms are interesting, but they are not as conclusive as one disparaging critic has suggested. Stove makes three main arguments against Popper: (1) Popper theories are bad because they lead to the epistemological relativism of Kuhn, Lakatos, and Feyerabend; (2) Popper's dismissal of induction is contrary to common sense and is therefore "irrational"; and (3) Popper's argument on behalf of "conjectural knowledge" is fallacious because the phrase "conjectural knowledge" is a contradiction in terms. All three of these arguments are logically fallacious. The first commits the fallacy of "argument ad consequentiam," which tries to refute the truth of a doctrine by associating it to its (alleged) consequences. This is, in a way, a sort of guilt by association argument. The second argument simply assumes the very point at issue. No where in his book on Popper does Stove attempt to prove that induction is rational. He simply assumes it is and denounces Popper on the basis of this gratuitous assumption. The last argument is merely verbal and proves only that Popper has violated common linguistic usage. But why should we assume that linguistic usage must always be philosophically right? Stove also makes a great fuss about Popper's assertion that a "falsifiability" is preferable to "irrefutability." Stove assumes that this is palpably absurd. How can a theory that is falsifiable possibly be better than one that is irrefutable? But Stove appears to have missed the whole point of Popper's theory. Falsifiability merely means "testability." Irrefutable, on the other hand, means simply "untestable." When looked at in this line, Popper's theory no longer seems so absurd. In fact, it is merely a great leap forward in the fight against dogmatism and close-mindedness.

Review: The Logic of Scientific Discovery

User Review  - John Peralta - Goodreads

Karl Popper is a leading philosopher of science. In this book he introduced the concept of falsifiability. Put simply, no theory can be considered a scientific theory unless it can be scrutinized ... Read full review


On the Problem of a Theory of Scientific Method
Some Structural Components of a Theory of Experience
The Problem of the Empirical Basis
Theory and Experiment
Degrees of Testability
Logical Ranges Notes on the Theory of Measurement
Degrees of Testability Compared by Reference to Dimensions
Infimte Sequences Hypothetical Estimates of Frequency
An Exammation of the Axiom of Randomness 59 ChanceLike Sequences Objective Probability
Go Bernoullis Problem
6i The Law of Great Numbers Bernoullis Theorem
Bernoullis Theorem and the Interpretation of Probability Statements
Bernoullis Theorem and the Problem of Convergence
Some Observaiions on Quantum Theory
i0 Corroboraiion or How a Theory Stands up to Tests

The Dimension of a Set of Curves 40 Two Ways of Reducmg the Number of Dimensions of a Set of Curves
4i Elimmation of the Aesthetic and the Pragmatic Concepts of Simplicity
The Methodalogical Problem of Simplicity 43 Simplicity and Degree of Falsifiability
Geometrical Shape and Functional Form
The Simplicity of Euclidean Geometry
Conventionalism and the Concept of Simplicity
The Problem of Interpretmg Probability Statements 48 Subjective and Objective Interpretations
The Fundamental Problem of the Theory of Chance
The Frequency Theory of von Mises
5t Plan for a New Theory of Probability
Relative Frequency withm a Fmite Class 53 Selection Independence Insensitiveness Irrelevance
Fmite Sequences Ordmal Selection and Neighbourhood Selection
nFreedom m Fimte Sequences 56 Sequences of Segments The First Form of the Binomial Formula
Examinaiion of an Objection The TwoSlit
Remarks Concermng an Imaginary Experiment
i Two Notes on Induction and Demarcaiion
li A Note on Probability i938
ili On the Heuristic Use of the Classical Definition
vi On Objective Disorder or Randomness
vili Content Simplicity and Dimension
Staiistical Tests
x Universals Dispositions and Naiural
xi On the Use and Misuse of Imaginary
xli The Experiment of Einstein Podolsky and Rosen
INDICES compiled by Dr J Agassi

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About the author (2002)

Popper is deceased. He is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers and most influential thinkers of our time.

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