Graduate studies at Western
Philosophy of Science 43 (3):311-336 (1976)
|Abstract||Science progresses if we succeed in rendering the objects of scientific inquiry more comprehensively or more precisely. Popper tries to formalize this venerable idea. According to him the most comprehensive and most precise description of the world is given by the set T of all true statements. A hypothesis comes the closer to T, or has the more verisimilitude, the more true consequences and the fewer false consequences it implies. Popper proposes to order hypotheses by the inclusion relations between the sets of their true and of their false consequences ("truth contents" and "falsity contents"). A partial ordering would permit one to decide whether the substitution of theory t 1 by t 2 represents scientific progress. But because of the logical relations between the elements of the sets of logical consequences, or contents, false hypotheses cannot be compared. As our theories usually turn out to be false sooner or later, they can seldom be compared as to their verisimilitude and when they can, the result depends only on which theory implies the other and on their truth-values. Popper even tries to define a measure of verisimilitude on the partial ordering. It has to fail for the same reason. In addition he tries to relativize the concept of a content and fails. What is more, any attempt at defining a measure of better or worse correspondence to the whole truth must fail, as there is no justification for saying that any true primitive sentence asserts as much about reality as some other primitive sentence, or more|
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