The Falsification Principle

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  • Created by: Abena
  • Created on: 30-05-13 10:13
  • Falsification principle originates from Karl Popper's philosophy of science: 'Statements are scientific if our emperical experiences could potentially falsify them'
    • this distinguishes science from non-science
    • 'Any theory that is impossible to disprove is no vallid theory at all.' - Karl Popper
  • Thus, that which is impossible to disprove is meaningless/invalid
  • The Falsification principle aims to improve upon the limitations of the Verification principle
  • Antony Flew applied this principle to religious language
  • The problem, he realised with religious language is that it cannot be falsified - it is not a genuine statement at all
  • Flew argues; when we say something is the case e.g. 'tigers have stripes' - we are also denying the opposite 'tigers do not, not have stripes' 
  • when you assert something, you are also asserting that there are fact which may count against your assertion.
  • Flew adapted John Wisdom's Parable of the Gardener to illustrate this - two explorers in a jungle, weeds and flowers grow, one believes there is a gardener, the other does not, several attempts to find this gardener none is seen, faithful explorer does not give up their belief - just how does an invisible, intangible, eternally elusive gardener differ from an imaginary gardener or even from no gardener at all!
  • Flew argues religious believer act in the same way - 'shift the goalposts', this he calls 'the death of a thousand qaulifications'
  • R. M. Hare responded to the falsification principle with his theory of 'Bliks' 
  • He used the parable of the Lunatic - believed the 'dons' were after him, even the most kind and…


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