Science Essay


Critique Putnam for Debunking Popper’s Falsification

Critique Putnam for Debunking Popper’s Falsification

Popper was a philosopher whose main aim was to reclaim science’scertainty. He was aware of the problem of Hume’s induction theory.Hume’s theory requires prior belief in the reliability of theinduction (Brown, 2012). According toPopper, critical rationalism that was advanced from refutation andconjecture implied inexistence of induction instead, an empiricalmethod is characterized by falsification until the system is tested.This made Popper fear basing his theories on the induction principleby Popper. Instead, he proposed Modus tollen method of denying theantecedent that was a deductive approach. However, Putnamcriticized Popper`s principle arguing that testing theoriesusing the deductive approach will never reduce to a single sentence.In other words, Putnam meant that Popper was aiming wrongly(Losee, 2005).

Thesis Statement

No theory can be based on a single claim hence no way of falsifyinga theory by proposing a principle that refutes a single claim.


Certainly, the solution by Popper was correct to some extent. Indeed,induction problems would vanish if there was no induction. Thecriticism by Putnam on Popper does not imply that induction isnecessary, as Hume had proposed. Rather, he complains that Popper hadbeen presenting falsificationism as alternative to the inductionprinciple, as he, Popper, considered induction as untenable.According Putnam’s argument of the standard inductivist account of the scientific methods, a theory is an implication of aprediction, and if false, then that theory becomes falsified andwhen sufficient, then the predictions of the theory becomes true(Hyslop-Margison, 2010).

The descriptions by Putnam of falsification and induction appearsimilar structurally when worded. By refraining from furtheranalysis, Putnam appears satisfied with linguistic comparison. Putnamclaims that both induction and falsification requires review of thepredictions implied by a theory and determining the truth of theprediction. Further, Putnam points out that falsification principleby Popper is connected to the induction principle by Humes, which wasopposed by Popper, when doing the predictions(Kourany, 2007).

Annotated Bibliography

Critique of Popper’s Theory of Induction

Losee, J. (2005). Theorieson the Scrap Heap: Scientists and Philosophers on the Falsification,Rejection, and Replacement of Theories.Pittsburgh PA: University of Pittsburgh.

Losee noted that the induction and falsification theories were onlydifferent when it came to using the information. He quotes Putnam,who said that induction uses true predictions to proof a theory butin falsification, the theory prediction link acts as indicator of thetheories that are to be considered scientific. Tentatively, if atheory is corroborated, then it can be held until when falsified. Theauthor notes that the assertion by Putnam on induction andfalsification is undermined further through his description of thenature of some basic statements made by Popper. Putnam is portrayedto believe that the ideal case is the one where a theory rules outmany basic statements that imply improbable prediction relative tothe prior knowledge.

Kourany, J. A. (2007). ScientificKnowledge: Basic Issues in the Philosophy of Science.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub.

Kourany presents the scientific knowledge of major philosophers likePopper and Putnam. The author states that Putnam believed thatfalsification theory by Popper is contrary to the induction processbecause a theory link is the connected with past success. As aresult, he concluded that falsification was completely out of orderand was doing something else. If this was the case, then inductionand falsifications are not related as he had earlier on pointed out,meaning that Putnam account on this is unclear.

While according to Popper science do not proceed by principle ofinductive loads but through falsifying hypotheses, Putnam criticizedthe general schema by Popper in understanding scientific principle ofa theory entailing a piece of evidence. This presupposition made byPopper makes Putnam deny that the scientific theory can imply orentail a piece of evidence, prediction or observation.

Hyslop-Margison, E. J. (2010). ScientificParadigms and Falsification: Kuhn, Popper, and Problems in EducationResearch. Educational Policy 24(5),815-31.

In his journal, Hyslop-Margison suggeststhat according to Putnam, Popper was ignoring practical use of thescientific theories. He argued that a law that cannot withstand othertests cannot withstand tests that are severe like those in attemptedapplication. Is this was true, and then science will lose meaning asan important field. Therefore, he believed that people can onlyentrust themselves to science is there is no reason of believing ontruth of science. He pointed out the criticism of Putnam that ascientific theory does not have an experimentally falsifiableconsequence even after the theory is taken in combination with otherconditions.

Brown,J. R. (2012). Philosophy of Science: TheKey Thinkers. London: Continuum.

This author illustrates that Putnam noted that a scientific theorycomprises of observational consequences together some ‘auxiliarystatements’. Therefore, to oppose Popper, Putnam argued that it isimpractical to use theory for auxiliary statements. In this case, atheory should be a system of laws, and in the face of therecalcitrant experimental result, an Auxiliary Statement can berejected easily. For Instance, the law of gravity by Isaac Newton isnot in accordance to Popper’s falsifiable theory though it is aparadigm of a scientific theory.

Critique of Putnam Theory of Identity

Putnam, H. (2001). The Impact of Science on ModernConceptions of Rationality . Synthese46(3), 359-82.

The book by Putnam reviews the impacts ofscience on the modern conceptions of rationality. Specifically, thissection critiques the law of identity by Putnam, with specialreference to Popper and Humes.

Certainly, the solution by Popper regarding induction was correct.Nevertheless, a more positive resolution would have been reached ifit were identified that Hume was wrong, and no problem was identifiedwith induction. Despite the great skills as a writer and thinker, theinduction principle by Hume was wrong. According to Putnam, Inductionis not dependent on the validity on observation but is dependent onLaw of Identity. In his description of the law of identity, Putnamargues that two ideas cannot be one and the same. He clearly pointsout that applying two definite descriptions for substances which aredifferent may not be always reliably analogous because of thecontingent identity. Despite the claims by Putnam that when the Lawof Identity is applied correctly and described accurately the meaningis correct, the inference by reduction still holds. However, thisdoes not suffice fully as the author Putnam uses concepts that areclashing.

For instance, the Identity theory states that it is hard for someoneto know that ‘stove is hot` without necessary having to know that‘mean molecular energy` is very high. Obviously, such an aspect ofthe theory is false hence evoking empirical reduction. This madePutnam manage to declare that two different objects can be one andthe same when the properties are ‘associated with Spatio-temporalregion, which should be one and the same. As a result, pain, which isexternal, cannot be perceived as the internal state of the brain asthey both do not possess same attributes of ‘matter`.

Putnam points out that pain is not a state of the brain inphysical-chemical state sense. Rather, it is a functional state ofthe entire organism, and this propels the idea that pronunciation ofmeaningful translations for mental states in behavioristic terms maynot be possible though the behavior is a characteristic.

Logically, such a concept is based on ‘Turing Machine` model thatencourages the probability foundations over the inevitability of somefunctions. Measurement of the variance for sensory inputs governinglater instructions enhances the determination of the variousbehaviors or motor outputs. This follows the effect chain andplausible cause and is supported by the physical realization. Despite the direct specification of the sensory organs, inputs andstates are specified indirectly. As a result, the transition ofprobabilities from the Turing Machine Table are accorded meaning.

Additionally, Putnam developed the ‘machine-state functionalism`which shows that each organism possessing a mind falls in thecategory that is similar to that of the Turing Machine of beingdroid. Nevertheless, probabilistic aspect, instead of deterministic,proposed by Putnam leaves allowances for variance. Generally,machines operations depend on the set of instructions that areexhibited a the machine table and which help in determining thelater ‘states`. Each system description is an implication ofdistinct states that are related to their causes and effects and areexpressed as transition probabilities within the table. Theidentification of total state of a system in relation to itsdescription entails knowledge of the probably of the likely behaviorrather than physical-chemical state of the brain that takes part inphysical realization implied indirectly using description andspecified only by the transition probability table.

In general, in can be concluded that Putnamfairly succeeds in arguing the identity theory while at thesame time promoting the revolutionary functionalism to accuratelydepict translation of the internal to external. The realization ofinternal states is attributable to the sensory inputs as well as themotor outputs. Philosophers may configure clear descriptions ofinternal substances on the basis of assumed predictions and measuredoutcomes. This acts as the foundation way that links internal andexternal worlds.

In simple terms, a program may not be in a position to give thecomputer a ‘mind`. Rather, it installs processes and memories toexhibit cause and effect pattern, without implication ofunderstanding, and as such, the theory if flawed. This is welldemonstrated through the development of the mind in relation toethics amongst children. The consequentialism dictates he cause andeffects without giving room for further probing on the reasons ofoccurrence.

Critique of Corroboration andVerisimilitude by Popper

Popper, K. (2008). TheLogic of Scientific Discovery. London:Hutchinson.

This book by Popper critiques the theory of corroboration andverisimilitude by Popper. The science philosophy by Popper does notend with falsification. He fleshes the basic falsificationist accountthrough introduction of corroboration and verisimilitude concepts.The introduction of these concepts is done in a way that makes itamenable to the scientific realism. However, it can be argued thatthis attempt by Popper never succeeded. First, corroboration shouldbe considered simply by using Popper’s falsification theory.Admittedly, corroboration never plays any significant role infalsification proper, especially concerning the low-level empiricalhypotheses. For instance, Popper argues that the falsification of atheory cannot be accepted unless the low-level empirical hypothesesthat describe a reproducible effect refuting the theory iscorroborated. Such a corroboration is not of a highly universaltheory. Instead, the low-level empirical claim should not be strictlyuniversal as argued by Popper.

Corroboration by Popper does not imply verification since he rejectedany justificationism. Consistent with the critique of his probabilitylogic, he does not imply probable. Popper considers ‘truth’ to belogical, hence timeless. He also admits that corroboration appraisalis logical, thus timeless. This implies the existence of hugedifference between truth and corroboration. Although truth can beconsidered as ‘simple and pure’, corroboration cannot beconsidered as so since corroboration is relative to the system ofbasic elements. Popper’s emphasis tends to lean more ontime-dependency side. However, it would be more imperative to basethe emphasis on relativity of the system for basic elements neededfor corroboration.


Brown, J. R. (2012). Philosophyof Science: The Key Thinkers. London:Continuum.

Hyslop-Margison, E. J. (2010). ScientificParadigms and Falsification: Kuhn, Popper, and Problems in EducationResearch. Educational Policy 24(5),815-31.

Kourany, J. A. (2007). ScientificKnowledge: Basic Issues in the Philosophy of Science.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub.

Losee, J. (2005). Theorieson the Scrap Heap: Scientists and Philosophers on the Falsification,Rejection, and Replacement of Theories.Pittsburgh PA: University of Pittsburgh.

Popper, K. (2008). TheLogic of Scientific Discovery. London:Hutchinson.

Putnam, H. (2001). The Impact of Science on ModernConceptions of Rationality . Synthese46(3), 359-82.