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Falsificationism revision notes
Falsificationism grew out of the weaknesses of verificationism. Karl Popper is
at the root of Falsificationism, he distinguished science from non science in his
book 'conjectures and refutations'. He stated "statements are scientific if our
empirical experiences could potentially falsify them" and "any theory that is
impossible to disprove is no valid theory at all". Therefore according to Popper
anything which is impossible to disprove is meaningless.
-Every theory is valid for falsificationism as long as it is possible for it to be
disproved and until it is 100% disproved it is 100% valid.
-Amongst many examples of Popper is the comparison of Einstein's theory of
gravity with astrology. Popper argued that Einstein's theory of gravity was
scientific as it was potentially falsifiable, it could be tested empirical
observations of the universe. Astrology on the other hand is not falsifiable as it
is beyond the world as we know it.
Antony Flew was one of the philosophers who applied this principle to
religious language. Flew argued that religious language was unfalsifiable. Flew
built on John Wisdom's parable of 2 explorers in the jungle who come across a
clearing, one explorer believes there is a gardener because there are flowers
the other does not as there are also many weeds. After several attempts to find
this gardener none is seen, one explorer tries to explain that the gardener is
invisible , intangible and eternally elusive. But how does this differ from no
gardener at all? Flew believes that religious believers always "shift the goal
posts" and don't allow their belief to be falsified- it dies a death of a thousand
qualifications. Religion makes exceptions for God all the time which does not
allow it to be falsified.
Responses to falsificationism
R.M Hare responded to Flew with his theory of `Bliks'- He used the parable of
the lunatic student who believed all his proffessors were plotting to kill him.
Even the most kind and gentle one, he believed it was just a plan.
A Blik- An unfalsifiable conviction.
a particular view about the world that is uninfluenced by empirical evidence
and may not be based on reason or fact, nether the less it is a belief which
alters our perceptions on the world. It is unfalsifiable but surely has some
Flew responds to this by saying religious believers are claiming more than he
thinks, they claim something about the cosmos in a realist sense- they make
assertions which need to be falsifiable.
Mitchell -WW11 French resistance fighter meets a stranger who says he is on
the side of the resistance, the fighter trusts the stranger and although at times
the stranger looks to be on the side of the German Gestapo, the fighter

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Mitchell is aware of the problems faith causes but at the same time it provides
strong qualities such as faith and trust, so it should not just be abandoned as
Wittgenstein-Language has meaning in the use of context.
Falsificationism itself cannot be falsified therefore it is self-contradictory.…read more


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