Greg Bamford (2003). Research, Knowledge and Design. In Clare Newton, Sandra Kaj-O'Grady & Simon Wollan (eds.), Design + Research: Project Based Research in Architecture. Second International Conference of the Association of Australasian Schools of Architecture, Melbourne 28 – 30 September, 2003. Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia.
The discussion about relations between research and design has a number of strands, and presumably motivations. Putting aside the question whether or not design or “creative endeavour” should be counted as research, for reasons to do with institutional recognition or reward, the question remains how, if at all, is design research? This question is unlikely to have attracted much interest but for matters external to Architecture within the modern university. But Architecture as a discipline now needs to understand research much (...) better than in the past when ‘research’ was whatever went on in building science, history or people/environment studies. In this paper, I begin with some common assumptions about design, considered in relation to research, and suggest how the former can constitute or be a mode of the latter. Central to this consideration is an understanding of research as the production of publicly available knowledge. (shrink)
The two principal models of design in methodological circles in architecture—analysis/synthesis and conjecture/analysis—have their roots in philosophy of science, in different conceptions of scientific method. This paper explores the philosophical origins of these models and the reasons for rejecting analysis/synthesis in favour of conjecture/analysis, the latter being derived from Karl Popper’s view of scientific method. I discuss a fundamental problem with Popper’s view, however, and indicate a framework for conjecture/analysis to avoid this problem.
The received view of an ad hochypothesis is that it accounts for only the observation(s) it was designed to account for, and so non-ad hocness is generally held to be necessary or important for an introduced hypothesis or modification to a theory. Attempts by Popper and several others to convincingly explicate this view, however, prove to be unsuccessful or of doubtful value, and familiar and firmer criteria for evaluating the hypotheses or modified theories so classified are characteristically available. These points (...) are obscured largely because the received view fails to adequately separate psychology from methodology or to recognise ambiguities in the use of ''ad hoc''. (shrink)
Knowledge of residual perturbations in Uranus's orbit led to Neptune's discovery in 1846 rather than the refutation of Newton's law of gravitation. Karl Popper asserts that this case is untypical of science and that the law was at least prima facie falsified. I argue that these assertions are the product of a false, a priori methodological position, 'Weak Popperian Falsificationism' (WPF), and that on the evidence the law was not, and was not considered, prima facie false. Many of Popper's commentators (...) presuppose WPF and their views on this case and its implications for scientific rationality and method are similarly unwarranted or defective. (shrink)
Karl Popper defines an ad hoc hypothesis as one that is introduced to immunize a theory from some (or all) refutation but which cannot be tested independently. He has also attempted to explicate ad hocness in terms of certain other allegedly undesirable properties of hypotheses or of the explanations they would provide, but his account is confused and mistaken. The first such property is circularity, which is undesirable; the second such property is reduction in empirical content, which need not be. (...) In the former case, I argue that non-circularity is in any event preferable to non-ad hocness as a necessary condition for a satisfactory explanation or an explanans, as the case may be, and I try to sort out various persistent errors surrounding this comparison. In the latter case, I suggest that Popper is barking up the wrong tree, that important scientific progress sometimes does consist in just such reductions in empirical content as he proscribes. This provides a further reason for not taking ad hoc hypotheses as Popper conceives them to pose the danger for science he believes they do. (shrink)
Philosophers expend considerable effort on the analysis of concepts, but the value of such work is not widely appreciated. This paper principally analyses some arguments, beliefs, and presuppositions about the nature of design and the relations between design and science common in the literature to illustrate this point, and to contribute to the foundations of design theory.
Popper's account of refutation is the linchpin of his famous view that the method of science is the method of conjecture and refutation. This thesis critically examines his account of refutation, and in particular the practice he deprecates as avoiding a refutation. I try to explain how he comes to hold the views that he does about these matters; how he seeks to make them plausible; how he has influenced others to accept his mistakes, and how some of the ideas (...) or responses to Popper of such people are thus similarly mistaken. I draw some distinctions necessary to the provision of an adequate account of the so-called practice of avoiding a refutation, and try to rid the debate about this practice of at least one red herring. I analyse one case of 'avoiding' a refutation in detail to show how the rationality of scientific practice eludes both Popper and many of his commentators. Popper's skepticism about contingent knowledge prevents him from providing an acceptable account of contingent refutation, and so his method is really the method of conjecture and conjecture. He cannot do without the concepts of knowledge and refutation, however, if his account of science is to be plausible or persuasive, and so he equivocates between, amongst other things, refutation as disproof and refutation as the weaker notion of discorroboration. I criticise David Stove's account of this matter, in particular to show how he misses this point. An additional advantage Popper would secure from this equivocation is that if refutations were mere discorroborations they would be easier to achieve, and hence more common in science, than is the case. On Popper's weak notion of refutation, it would be possible to refute true theories since corroboration does not entail truth. There are two other related doctrines Popper holds about refutation which, if accepted, make some refutations seem easier to obtain than is the case. I call these doctrines 'Strong Popperian Falsificationism' (SPF) and 'Weak Popperian Falsificationism' (WPF). SPF is the false doctrine that if a prediction from some theory is refuted then that theory is refuted. Popper does not always endorse SPF. In particular, when confronted with a counterexample to it, he retreats to WPF, which is the false doctrine that if a prediction from some theory is refuted then that theory is prima facie refuted. WPF , or even SPF, can seem plausible if one has in mind predictions derived from theories in strong or conclusive tests of those theories, which I suggest Popper characteristically does. v Popper is disposed to describe any such case of predictive failure which does not lead to the refutation of the theory concerned as one in which that refutation has been avoided. To reinforce his portrayal of the refutation, or the attempted refutation, of major scientific theories as the rational core of scientific practice, Popper treats the so-called practice of avoiding a refutation as untypical of science, and much so-called avoidance he dismisses as unscientific or pseudo-scientific. I argue that his notion of avoiding a refutation is incoherent. Popper is further driven to believe that such avoidance is possible, however, because he conflates sentences with propositions and propositions with propositional beliefs. Also, he wishes to avoid being saddled with the relativisim that is a consequence of his weak account of refutation as discorroboration. Popper believes that ad hoc hypotheses are the most important of the unscientific means of avoiding a refutation. I argue that his account of such hypotheses is also incoherent, and that several hypotheses thought to be ad hoc in his sense are not. Such hypotheses appear to be so largely because of Popper's use of rhetoric and partly because these hypotheses are unacceptable for other reasons. I conclude that to know that a hypothesis is ad hoc in Popper's sense does not illuminate scientific practice. Popper has also attempted to explicate ad hocness in terms of some undesirable, or allegedly undesirable, properties of hypotheses or the explanations they would provide. The first such property is circularity, which is undesirable; the second such property is reduction in empirical content, which is not. In the former case I argue that non-circularity is clearly preferable to non-ad hocness as a criterion for a satisfactory explanation or explanans, as the case may be, and in the latter case that Popper is barking up the wrong tree. Some cases of so-called avoidance are obviously not unscientific. The discovery of Neptune from a prediction based on the reasonable belief that there were residual perturbations in the motion of Uranus is an important case in point, and one that is much discussed in the literature. The manifest failure of astronomers to account for Uranus's motion did not lead to the refutation of Newton's law of gravitiation, yet significant scientific progress obviously did result. Retreating to WPF, Popper claims that Newton's law was prima facie refuted. In general, astronomers have never shared this view, and they are correct in not doing so. I argue that the law of gravitation would have been prima facie refuted only if there had been good reason at the time to believe as false what is true, namely, that an unknown trans-Uranian planet was the cause of those Uranian residuals. Knowledge of the trans-Uranian region was then so slight that it was merely a convenient assumption, one which there was little reason to believe was false, that the known influences on Uranus's motion were the only such influences. I conclude that in believing vi or supposing that it was this assumption that was false, rather than the law of gravitation, Leverrier and Adams, the co-predictors of Neptune, were acting rationally and intelligently. Popper's commentators offer a variety of accounts of the alleged practice of avoiding a refutation, and of this case in particular. I analyse a sample of their accounts to show how common is the acceptance of some of Popper's basic mistakes, even amongst those who claim to reject his falsificationism, and to display the effects on their accounts of this acceptance of his mistakes. Many commentators recognize that anomalies are typically dealt with by changes in the boundary conditions or in other of the auxiliary propositions employed. Where many still go wrong, however, is in retaining the presupposition of WPF which encouraged Popper to hold the contradictory view about anomalies in the first place. Thus Imre Lakatos and others, for example, have developed a 'siege mentality' about major scientific theories; they see them as under continual threat of refutation from anomalies, and so come to believe that dogmatism is essential in science if such theories are to survive as they do. I examine various such doomed attempts to reconcile Popper with the history of science. It is a common failure in this literature to conflate or to fail to see the need to distinguish a belief from a supposition, and an epistemic reason from a pragmatic reason. I argue that only if one does draw these distinctions can one give an adequate account of how anomalies are rationally dealt with in science. The other important strand in Popper's thinking about 'avoidance' of refutation which has seriously misled some of his commentators is his unfounded belief in the dangers of ad hoc hypotheses. I examine the accounts that a sample of such commentators provide of the trans-Uranian planet hypotheses of Leverrier and Adams. These commentators imply or assert what Popper only hints at, namely, that there is something fishy about this hypothesis. I provide a further defence of the rationality of entertaining this hypothesis at the time. I conclude with a few remarks about Popper's dilemma in respect of scientific practice and his long standing emphasis on refutations. (shrink)
Watkins proposes a neo-Popperian solution to the pragmatic problem of induction. He asserts that evidence can be used non-Inductively to prefer the principle that corroboration is more successful over all human history than that, Say, Counter-Corroboration is more successful either over this same period or in the future. Watkins's argument for rejecting the first counter-Corroborationist alternative is beside the point, However, As whatever is the best strategy over all human history is irrelevant to the pragmatic problem of induction since we (...) are not required to act in the past, And his argument for rejecting the second presupposes induction. (shrink)