5 Answers

  1. The criterion of falsifiability makes it possible to separate theories that can and should be studied by scientific methods from those that are not amenable to scientific (and, possibly, no) analysis. So, for example, you can draw a line between science and religion, science and art.

    Doubts about the applicability of the principle of falsifiability in the humanities arise, probably, because these disciplines themselves are often not yet mature enough to be considered a real science.

  2. The principle of falsifiability allows us to separate knowledge that is in principle refutable from irrefutable under any circumstances. That is, in fact, a useful function of this principle is to determine the conditions under which the theory can be proved.

    For example, to prove the thesis that labor led to the formation of man and distinguished him from other apes, one can point out the continuity between our ancestors and modern man and point out the important role of labor in the awareness of the external world, but the real falsification is possible only when statements are given.

    Falsification of this statement is possible if:

    a) Human artefacts were found in those archaeological layers where there are no tools.

    b) Without the development of labor activity, changes occur in the brain that confirm the presence of consciousness.

  3. To be honest, it doesn't apply much at all.

    Popper's most famous concept, falsificationism, in its original form was not just one of the criteria for correct science, but a methodological maxim: scientists should always look for a way to refute a hypothesis or theory, and not accumulate confirmations. If you refute a hypothesis, you should immediately put forward a new one, and the easier it is to refute, the better. Thus, the “natural selection” of scientific theories is carried out – the simplest and most accurate survives. It was also his attempt to solve the problem of induction. Instead of” confirmation, ” Popper introduced the concept of “corroboration,” a quantitative property of hypotheses measured by evidence that is in agreement with the hypothesis (and unsuccessful attempts to refute it). Theories in principle cannot be confirmed, only corroborated by various evidence. The fundamental difference between corroboration and confirmation is that corroboration does not lead to any conclusions about the predictive power or truth of the theory (which creates obvious difficulties).

    Unfortunately, Popper's methodology has never worked either prescriptively (as good scientists should behave) or as a description of the development of science. For example, Popper was very influential among economists, but the generalization of the economic agent as a rational utility maximizer was and still is central to economics, despite many refutations by psychologists and sociologists. Or, for example, the history of General Relativity, which has been confirmed experimentally and has become generally accepted, goes against all Popper's principles.

    It is known that Popper considered the theories of Marx and Freud unfalsifiable and unscientific. However, he also argued that Darwin's theory of natural selection was unscientific. Since it would be rather strange to reject such an authoritative and generally accepted theory, he allowed that it could be considered not so strictly scientific, but “a valuable metaphysical research program.” The irony is that Freudians and Marxists could defend their teachings against Popper in his own words.

    The problem of social sciences is rather not the “problem of demarcation”. The problem of demarcation, according to many modern philosophers, is largely a pseudo-problem – in principle, it is impossible to distinguish a set of some objective and clear formal criteria that would separate “science” from “non-science” (as “naive falsificationists” and other representatives of the naive understanding of science and scientific progress imagine). We can say that all generally recognized sciences exist and function in a paradigm, traditions and “common sense”, without any transcendent criteria of scientific character.

    The problem with the social sciences, which study human thinking and behavior, is that there is an explanatory and causal gap, and the battlefield is the hearts of people. This has been noted by many theorists. For example, John Searle identifies observer-independent (matter, physical laws, etc., whatever it is) and observer-dependent facts. Facts dependent on the observer are created by subjects-observers and exist only in their heads-signs, language, information, property, money, society, government, laws, absolutely all phenomena of human symbolic reality. Therefore, it is impossible to simply take and scientifically explain causal connections in human behavior and its phenomena, as some independent fact from the observer. Old philosophical problems come into play-subject / object, transcendent/immanent, etc. That is why representatives of the sciences that study facts independent of the observer sometimes disdain the “humanities”.

  4. Above is a great answer from “waitress”, I will only allow myself a small addition. Popper's ideas were once very accurately described by wiz-a-wiz Thomas Kuhn. Without detracting from his achievements, he only drew the audience's attention to the fact that Popper's teaching is not a methodology, but an ideology of science. This, of course, is very valuable, but it is rarely worth using any tool for other purposes.

  5. You probably mean the principle of falsifiability? I'm not sure that it can be called a methodology. Rather, it is a base for methodology. After all, this principle does not provide a methodology for refuting theories, but only postulates the necessity of the possibility (a good phrase) of refutation.

    It just seems to me that there are problems with the method of refutation in the humanities. That is, I am not aware of the humanities, in which theories were massively refuted and set aside forever, such as phlogiston, the model of matter “cake with raisins”, etc.Rather, the humanities follow the path of accumulation of theories, when all old theories coexist with new ones and do not receive final refutation, rather they become less popular. I may be wrong, but that's the impression I got.

    As I understand it, it is on this basis that Popper himself declared sociology and history to be non-sciences (I suspect that he simply did not take philology and literary studies seriously enough to even consider them scientific).

    I'm not sure if this means anything for the humanities. In the natural sciences, the methodology of refuting theories was well developed and without any Popper, and in the humanities it was not and is not. That is, they were initially in different conditions, in fact, they remained so. When a methodology for refuting theories in the humanities is developed or its impossibility is proved, then the criterion of falsifiability can be applied. So it seems to me.

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