Dogmatic Falsificationists

Dogmatic (or naive) falsificationists believe the slogan, "Humans propose, nature disposes." They believe in a rigorous division between theory and observation, and that observation should be the final arbiter of a theory's fate.

Science progresses through a series of deductive modus tollens arguments. First, a theory is proposed. A theory can be inspired in any number of ways, not necessarily by prior observation or experiment. Next, a hypothesis, H, is derived from the theory. It must be possible to "falsify" (or contradict) the hypothesis by some observational consequence, C*. Finally, the observation or experiment is carried out to determine if C* in fact holds. If so, then the theory is rejected; if not, then the theory is "corroborated," i.e., it lives to be tested another day. Corroboration does not imply acceptance of a theory as true, nor as more probably true; this proposition distinguishes falsificationists from inductivists and probabilists. The logical syllogism below represents the form taken by any hypothesis test, according to dogmatic falsificationists.


For a further discussion of the application and limits of dogmatic and methodological falsificationism, see this experimental demonstration of why the earth may really be flat.

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Last modified March 1998
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