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The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes: Volume 1: Philosophical Papers (Philosophical Papers (Cambridge))

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ISBN-13: 978-0521280310
ISBN-10: 0521280311
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The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes: Volume 1: Philosophical Papers (Philosophical Papers (Cambridge)) + Mathematics, Science and Epistemology: Volume 2, Philosophical Papers (Philosophical Papers (Cambridge))
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Editorial Reviews

Review

' ... there is an essential unity of theme and purpose running through all the papers collected in these volumes. Many of the papers, even though they have been previously published, are not fully self-contained and can be understood only by reference to others. Their collection and the editors' cross-referencing thus serves the useful purpose of facilitating an assessment of Lakatos' contribution to philosophy.' Philosophical Books

' ... a well-produced book that every philosopher of science or mathematics will wish to have.' Philosophy

Book Description

Lakatos, who died in 1974, was one of the outstanding younger philosophers of science. Volume 1 of this anthology offers papers on the physical sciences, including a previously unpublished essay on Newton. Volume 2 brings together work, much unpublished, on mathematics, together with critical essays on contemporary philosophy and some famous polemical writings on political and educational topics.

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Product Details

  • Series: Philosophical Papers (Cambridge) (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (November 28, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521280311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521280310
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Philosophy of Science is a crucial subset of philosophy, since it directly affects scientific research. We need to know what constitutes a properly constructed theory, and more to the point, which claims are not theoretical, or perhaps not even scientific. With that goal established, we need to know how to empirically verify the theory in question. Theories are developed within axiomatic systems, are based on assumptions, and present us with a compact thesis, or a set of theses. A theory is scientific if we can falsify it with empirical data. If a theory is not testable, then it is not a good theory, since we cannot accept or reject its propositions. An obvious point is to be raised here - when and under which conditions shall we reject a theory?
Methodological studies flourished in the XX century with the works of Karl Popper, Milton Friedman, Imre Lakatos, Harold Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend and other philosophers. The contribution of Imre Lakatos was significant. With his version of corroboration and refined fascificationism we were able to apply new standards towards the methods of rejection of scientific theories. A single rejection of the scientific theory is not likely to falsify it, unlike advocated previously. However, the main point is that while the absolute truth is always of importance, i.e. whether a given theory is considered "true" because we have not been able to negatively falsify that theory; it is more important that various theories can be compared to each other, even if they are all imperfect. To this end, we can specify a set of thresholds, and say that a research programme A is more empirically valid than a research programme B if it does withstand a larger number of empirical tests.
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Format: Paperback
Imre Lakatos (1922-1974) was a Hungarian philosopher of mathematics and science; the companion volume to this book is Mathematics, Science and Epistemology: Volume 2, Philosophical Papers.

The Editor’s Introduction states, “When Imre Lakatos died in 1974, many friends and colleagues expressed the hope that his unpublished papers would be made available. Some were also interested in seeing his contributions to journals and conference proceedings collected together in a book… we have prepared two volumes of selected papers which we hope will meet these demands. None of the papers published here for the first time was regarded by Lakatos as entirely satisfactory… Volume 1 is a collection of Lakatos’s best known articles developing the methodology of scientific research programmes…”

He rejects “dogmatic falsificationism” [e.g., Karl Popper]: “For the truth-value of the ‘observational’ propositions cannot be indubitably decided: no factual proposition can ever be proved from an experiment. Propositions can only be derived from other propositions, they cannot be derived from facts; one cannot prove statements from experiences… This is one of the basic points of elementary logic, but one which is understood by relatively few people even today.” (Pg. 15-16)

He then explains “scientific/progressive” explanations: “If we put forward a theory to resolve a contradiction between a previous theory and a counterexample in such a way that the new theory, instead of offering a content-increasing (scientific) explanation, only offers a content-decreasing (linguistic) explanation, the contradiction is resolved in a merely semantical, unscientific way.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Viktor Blasjo on February 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes." "A series of theories is theoretically progressive ... if each new theory has some excess empirical content over its predecessor, that is, if it predicts some novel, hitherto unexpected fact. ... [It] is also empirically progressive ... if some of this excess empirical content is also corroborated, that is, if each new theory leads to the discovery of some new fact. Finally, let us call a problemshift progressive if it is both theoretically and empirically progressive, and degenerating if it is not." (pp. 33-34). "Justificationists valued 'confirming' instances of a theory; naive falsificationists stressed the 'refuting' instances; for the methodological falsificationist [i.e. Lakatos] it is the---rather rare---corroborating instances of the excess information which are the crucial ones ... We are no longer interested in the thousands of trivial verifying instances nor in the hundreds of readily available anomalies." (p. 36). One implication is that it may be perfectly rational to work on a theory even if it rests on false assumptions. "Indeed, some of the most important research programmes in the history of science were grafted on to older programmes with which they were blatantly inconsistent." (p. 56). In quantum mechanics, for example, "the decision to go ahead with temporarily inconsistent foundations was taken by Einstein in 1905, but even he wavered in 1913, when Bohr forged forward again" (p. 59).Read more ›
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The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes: Volume 1: Philosophical Papers (Philosophical Papers (Cambridge))
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