David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
We examine the question of whether scientific theories can ever be complete. For two closely related reasons, we will argue that they cannot. The first reason is the inability to determine what are “valid empirical observations”, a result that is based on a self-reference Gödel/Tarski-like proof. The second reason is the existence of “meta-empirical” evidence of the inherent incompleteness of observations. These reasons, along with theoretical incompleteness, are intimately connected to the notion of belief and to theses within the philosophy of science: the Quine-Duhem (and underdetermination) thesis and the observational/theoretical distinction failure. Some puzzling aspects of the philosophical theses will become clearer in light of these connections. Other results that follow are: no absolute measure of the informational content of empirical data, no absolute measure of the entropy of physical systems, and no complete computer simulation of the natural world are possible. The connections with the mathematical theorems of Gödel and Tarski reveal the existence of other connections between scientific and mathematical incompleteness: computational irreducibility, complexity, infinity, arbitrariness and self-reference. Finally, suggestions will be offered of where a more rigorous (or formal) “proof” of scientific incompleteness can be found.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Brent Mundy (1990). On Empirical Interpretation. Erkenntnis 33 (3):345 - 369.
Panu Raatikainen (2005). On the Philosophical Relevance of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems. Revue Internationale de Philosophie 59 (4):513-534.
Francesco Berto (2009). The Gödel Paradox and Wittgenstein's Reasons. Philosophia Mathematica 17 (2):208-219.
Cristian S. Calude (2002). Incompleteness, Complexity, Randomness and Beyond. Minds and Machines 12 (4):503-517.
Roman Murawski (1997). Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems and Computer Science. Foundations of Science 2 (1):123-135.
Richard Tieszen (1994). Mathematical Realism and Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems. Philosophia Mathematica 2 (3):177-201.
Carlo Cellucci (1993). From Closed to Open Systems. In J. Czermak (ed.), Philosophy of Mathematics, pp. 206-220. Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads10 ( #149,208 of 1,103,233 )
Recent downloads (6 months)0
How can I increase my downloads?