Falsification Theory

Contains the names, theories, arguments and positive/negative views on the falsification theory

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Background on Falsification

  • It is a scientific theory that was applied to philosophy
  • It states that a statement is meaningful if it can be falsified
  • As religious views are subjective they are therefore meaningless
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  • He was the first to apply the falsification theory to philosophy
  • He was an empiricist
  • He said scientifical statements are about empirical evidence and are therefore meaningful
  • example: "einstein's theory of gravity is meaningful because it has the potential to be falsified"
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  • main person for arguing for this principle
  • He used the jungle analogy
  • He stated that God talk was meaningless
  • Religious believers make "God die a death of a thousand qualifications"
  • All God arguments are meaningless
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Flews - Jungle Analogy

"one of the explorers repeatedly modifies the qualities he attributes to an alleged gardener who looks after the forest clearing"

  • This believer is the theist --> causing God to die a death of a thousand qualifications
  • The other person claimed that the clearing was there by chance --> ATHEIST
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  • Used the example of the lunatic
  • said Blicks were a way of seeing the world
  • there are sane and insane blicks
  • Blicks are unfalsifiable as they are subjective
  • He believed religious statements should not be treated like scientific statements --> this is similar to wisdom
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  • theists are not wrong just because we can't falsify it
  • analogy of the garden
  • religious langauge statements are reasonable statements
  • the existence of God is outside scientific enquiry --> cannot be falsified
  • things are meaningful to the person who believes them
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  • the analogy of the partisan
    • some people's beliefs may seem strange to others
  • against Flew's "death of a thousand qualifications"
    • states religious believers do accept evidence against their faith
    • e.g. Augustine --> accepts the problem of evil
  • suggests that religious statements are potentially statements about how the world is
    • statements are meaningful
    • any claim about the world is falsifiable
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  • uses the toys analogy
    • just because we cannot see toys become alive when we leave the room does not mean they don't
  • against the falsification theory
  • even if statements are not falsifiable they can still be meaningful
  • "God's existence can be understood as a concept, even though it cannot be proved true or false"
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  • rejected the falsification principle
  • statements cannot be falsified anymore than they can be verified
    • adds nothing that verification doesn't
  • evidence may suggest it is false BUT that doesn't mean it is impossible that it could be true
  • maintains that weak verification is the most appropraite method
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  • the afterlife cannot be falsified in this life
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Flew's responses

  • to Hare
    • Flew likes the idea of blicks
    • states theists would dislike their religion to be only blicks
  • to Mitchell
    • theological statments still have to be explained
    • agrees some christians understand the problem of evil, as a real challange to religion
  • Flew has no issue with subjective statements about God BUT with statements that include the world with God
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