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Philosophy of Science - Essay Example

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Hempel argues that induction is used as a way to eliminate any bias that could be formed by forming opinions without evidence. He argues that scientists use induction because it is a way of generating results without having to hypothesize first, so that the hypothesis is based on data of some kind and not simply conjecture…
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Philosophy of Science Essay
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Philosophy of Science

This is because, according to advocates of induction as the basis of science, one must begin an experiment and hypothesis formation by evaluating all available evidence before forming a hypothesis. Hempel points out that this is impossible, because all available evidence means everything that ever could be known about anything, and gaining that kind of knowledge before even starting an experiment is obviously impossible. Even if one weakens this statement to “one should gather all relevant evidence before forming a hypothesis,” logic still does not support this kind of induction, because this statement requires a hypothesis to determine relevancy. How can someone, without performing a wide variety of experiments, determine what is or is not relevant? So obviously using this kind of induction at all, according to Hempel, is not a good way to engage in scientific practice. He believes that people should be comfortable hypothesizing without evidence, since there is no way to avoid doing so anyways. Forming an hypothesis and then using deductive logic to prove or disprove it, using verifiable results, will not, according to Hempel, induce more bias, especially because it is more honest to the actual situation of real world science as practiced. To say that Quine succeeds in showing there is no distinction between analytic and synthetic truths is going a bit too far, but Quine certainly does do an excellent job blurring the lines between the two and bringing both kinds of truth closer in line with each other and with an ideal of pragmatism. One of the most telling things that Quine is able to accomplish is to demonstrate that so called analytic truths usually only work because of elaborate systems of synonyms and antagonism between themselves. Essentially, the only way an analytical truth can be true is if boils down to a basic logical statement, a fundamental assumption such as A=A. So, to use his example, the statement “every bachelor is an unmarried man” only functions truthfully because bachelor and not married man are equivalent to each other. He also points out that the only reason “bachelor” means “unmarried man” because it has been determined by a population of speakers, codified by a dictionary or a lexicographer and so on, that those two things are equivalent to each other. The population, dictionary and lexicographer, however, all operate synthetically to determine this, not analytically, showing that the analytical is already, in this statement, somewhat reliant on the synthetic. Furthermore, there are obvious holes in the statement “every bachelor is an unmarried man” because it does not account or bachelor of laws, arts, etc. A way around this problem is the understanding that bachelor is associated with an idea, a meaning of unmarried man, and bachelor in that sense is analytically not synonymous with bachelor in the sense of bachelor of letters. But that argument also essentially undermines all analytical arguments, because it means that to form analytical truths you must boil down everything, reducing layers of meaning until all you get is a one to one meaning equivalency, which is of no use to anyone. So Quine demonstrates that the synthetic and analytic have to work together, to a degree. Carnap makes a strong argument that the propositions of the science of logic, (or in Carnaps mind, philosophy) are actually meaningful and useful. What Carnap essentially ... Read More
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