Discussion on Poppers and Sober's View of Simplicity

Topics: Scientific method, Falsifiability, Philosophy of science Pages: 2 (748 words) Published: August 2, 2011
Popper's theory of simplicity is directly derived from his Falsification theory. To illustrate this we can say that; it is true that Popper decreed that the more falsifiable a theory was; the better the theory is, and the better it will be received. If this is true; it is then is stated that the degree that a theory is falsifiable should track the degree to which a theory is simple; so if this were to be true should then prefer the theories that are highly simple (and falsifiability). So if we were to place this I'm a real life scientific setting we could say that; i) parrots are feathery or ii) all birds are feathery. Now according to Popper ii) would be a better theory in terms of falsifiability and in terms of simplicity, as; it is falsified by more types of findings, could be falsified by any sighting of a non feathery bird; and it is more simple as a parrot is less simple, as it is much more specific, than birds in general.

In terms of the merits of Popper's theory, in a perfect Popperian world this theory of simplicity would make life for scientists quite easy - as it is a part of his theory of falsification. Further more his description and application of simplicity makes a great deal of sense, in terms of relation to parts of falsification which are part of the modern scientific process, as complicated and convoluted are usually quite difficult to debunk (falsify). However, take this illustration of a mathematical equation representing a scientific theory, adapted from Post (1969); we have theory a), which represents a linear relationship: y = 1.5 - 2x; whilst according to theory b) y = 1.5 - 2x + 0.3x2. Now according to Poppers falsifiability criteria of determining simplicity; the two theories of are equally as simple (since each can only be falsified by one occurrence). This leads to an automatic counter-intuitive result, which leaves the theory high and dry, as they are clearly not at the same level of simplicity.

Sober's view on simplicity goes...
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