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First Internalist theory of demarcation: Logical Empiricism

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Jeanine and Bob Schroer

on 18 September 2016

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Transcript of First Internalist theory of demarcation: Logical Empiricism

Theories of Demarcation
: Theories that explain what makes science SCIENCE--theories that separate science from pseudoscience.

Context of discovery
: The process by whch scientists originally come up with their ideas.
Context of justification
: The process by which scientists subsequently test those ideas using observation/experimentation

Review from Shermer (p. 24-33):
Internalist appoaches

to Demarcation
Internalist approaches to demarcation...
....view science as being independent of culture
....view the internal, logical structure of science as being the key to its success
....view science as accumulating knowledge over time.

What kind of logic?
According to the Logical Empiricists, science relies upon
inductive logic
: logic where the premises of arguments provide good, but not conclusive, support for the truth of their conclusions.

Example of an inductive argument Example of a deductive argument
1) 95% of philosophers are cool. 1) Bob is a man
2) Bob Schroer is a philosopher. 2) All men are mortal
Therefore, Bob Schroer is cool! Therefore, Bob is mortal.

Some reasons for thinking that science relies upon inductive logic
Scientific laws involve universal statements, so no amount of finite observation can conclusively establish the truth of a scientific theory.
As Shermer notes, science advances “provisional” conclusions. Inductive logic accommodates this idea by positing that no amount of data/evidence can conclusively secure the truth of one's hypothesis.

Back to Internalism
Recall Shermer’s description of “Internalistic” approaches to science and demarcation. These approaches maintain that what’s significant about science is its internal logical structure. Culture plays little to no role in science, and scientific knowledge accumulates over time.

These themes are echoed in the account of demarcation given by the Logical Empiricists:
What makes science special is a kind of logic (inductive logic)
All sciences rely upon this logic in relating observation to theory
This logic is “universal”, it’s not “culture-relative”
Over time, this logical machinery and observation will generate more and more truths
We can use this logical machinery to objectively compare competing theories to one another and see which is better supported by the available evidence

Our first version of an Internalist approach: Logical Empiricism
Popular movement within the first half of the 20th century
Core Ideas
Science is a rigorous continuation of everyday reasoning.
Science is distinguished from non/pseudo-science in terms of its reliance upon observation and good logic that relates observation to theory.

Is Logical Empiricism a viable account of demarcation?
We'll talk about this in class, but here are some things to think about....

To pull this off, the Logical Empiricist needs to develop a viable system of inductive logic—they need to come up with general rules that dictate when a given observation counts as genuine confirmation/disconfirmation for a theory/hypothesis and the degree to which it confirms/disconfirms that theory/hypothesis. This system of rules must be applicable to every scientific subfield.

Our first Internalist theory of demarcation: Logical Empiricism
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