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Posted by Harvey on May 2, 2002 04:42:06 UTC

Hi Mario,

***H: What you referring to, the (1) truth statements of the 'scientific method', the (2) truth statements of scientific theories, the (3) truth statements of scientific realism? M: 2 and 3. I don't see any truth statements in the scientific method, maybe you can tell me what they are.***

Induction, inference to the best explanation, definition of an explanation, unobservables as inferred, unobservables as constructed, Occam's razor, naturalistic approach, operationalism, H-D method, causation, criteria of a good theory, etc, etc.

***H: religious faith is based on certain core truth statements that are not taken as provisional but as true as an act of faith. I don't see any difference between this kind of faith and a scientific faith in certain core truth assumptions. M: Okay, you're going to have to get specific now. Exactly what are science's core assumptions?***

Again, do you mean for (1), (2), or (3)?

***You refer to them, but I haven't seen any examples. There is a difference between ore assumptions and core beliefs. When I calculate a freefall equation, I assume that there is no air resistance, though I know there is. I just don't have the equipment or information to calculate it accurately. When a scientist calculates a quantum theory equation, he assumes that it is correct, even though he knows the equation is ultimately an estimation, because it's the most accurate we have so far with the equipment and information we currently have.***

These mix both (1) and (2). The (1) includes some of the above, and (2) include such things as a definition of an approximation, realism/antirealism, mathematical utility, instrumentalism, factual treatment of unobservables, empirical adequacy of a theory, meaning of theoretical terms, overdetermination of a theory, underdetermination of a theory, indeterminism, interpretation of the uncertainty principle, definition of an object, etc, etc. There isn't a clean line between the core assumptions of (1) and (2). Problems with (1) affect (2). And problems with (2) could well revise our concepts of (1).

***Those are assumptions. Faith would be my saying that there is no air resistance: assuming I'm right from the get-go.***

Faith would be that inductive reasoning is sufficient to solve a problem. You have reason to accept inductive reasoning, but this is reasoning pragmatic reasoning that doesn't establish that your predictions are true or even close to being true.

***You seem to be attacking scientists who make assumptions, but I'm still not clear on something. What do you find inconsistent about my brand of skepticism? Something specific, not "Well, you're making truth statements." Give examples of where my truth statements are more than acknowledged placeholders.***

I'm not attacking scientists. I am pointing out that behind every scientific theory is a series of philosophical issues which have not been solved and that require an act of faith. I gave examples above.

***H: Could a scientist say that certain core truth statements they rely on are fallible, sure, but only if all reason must be thrown out. Similarly, any honest theist could admit that their core truth assumptions are fallible, but only if all reason should be thrown out. But, for the most part, that would be ludicrous. M: Only if all reason must be thrown out? Why? I don't see any sense behind this statement.***

Well, we can throw out induction as unreliable (thus, destroying science), however this would be contrary to reason. We know the usefulness (pragmatic value) of induction, but we cannot show that this gives us truth or even approximate truth. We just know it is useful.

Warm regards, Harv

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