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Posts Tagged ‘einstein’

Understanding Reality

In critical rationalism on 29/08/2011 at 6:39 am

Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. In our endeavour to understand reality, we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a closed watch … He will never be able to compare his picture with the real mechanism, and he cannot even imagine the possibility or the meaning of such a comparison. But he certainly believes that, as his knowledge increases, his picture of reality will become simpler and … explain a … wider range of his sensuous expressions. He may also believe in the existence of the ideal limit of knowledge and that it is approached by the human mind. He may call this limit the objective truth. (Albert Einstein, The Evolution of Physics Simon and Schuster, New York, 1938, 33)

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Einstein

In experiments on 07/07/2011 at 11:32 am

There are two ways that a theorist goes astray: (1) The devil leads him by the nose with a false hypothesis. (For this he deserves our pity) (2) His arguments are erroneous and sloppy. (For this he deserves a beating). (Einstein, letter to Lorentz, The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Princeton University Press, (Princeton, NJ, 1987-2006), volume 8A, p. 88)

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Grue

In experiments on 29/06/2011 at 9:32 am

Not many people have heard of Alfred North Whitehead’s (yes, the coauthor of the Principia Mathematica!) 1922 theory of gravitation. It’s an interesting theory, not just for its content, but for its historical significance: for the longest time, both Einstein’s theory of gravitation and Whitehead’s theory of gravitation predicted “not only for the three classic tests of light bending, gravitational redshift and the precession of the perihelion of Mercury, but also for the Shapiro time delay effect,” (See Gary Biggons, On the Multiple Deaths of Whitehead’s Theory of Gravity) and subsequently both theories were equally corroborated by the data.

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Philosophy of Science v. Epistemology

In duhem, induction, quine on 23/06/2011 at 10:41 am

In light of Einstein, Rutherford, and Maxwell, if we assume the knowledge-acquiring process S employs in everyday affairs is distilled or refined in scientific practice, then the problem of induction and the Duhem-Quine thesis should have long ago put to rest any theory of knowledge that claims S can know theory 1 has a greater objective verisimilitude than theory 2.

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“Falsifiability”

In critical rationalism, popper on 18/06/2011 at 12:31 am

Recently, a friend of mine sent me this criticism of falsifiability published in Edge.org in 2008 by Rebecca Goldstein, the wife of Steven Pinker and author of a few decent (so I hear) books. Upon reading it, I knew I had to write up a good ‘fisk’ of the criticism, seeing as it provides a good opportunity to clear up some misconceptions.

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Newton & Einstein

In induction, popper on 15/06/2011 at 4:05 pm

“… (1) Newton’s theory is exceedingly well corroborated. (2) Einstein’s theory is at least equally well corroborated. (3) Newton’s and Einstein’s theories largely agree with each other; nevertheless, they are logically inconsistent with each other because, as for instance in the case of strongly eccentric planetary orbits, they lead to conflicting predictions. (4) Therefore, corroboration cannot be a probability (in the sense of the calculus of probabilities).

“… The proof is simple. If corroboration were a probability, then the corroboration of ‘Either Newton or Einstein’ would be equal to the sum of the two corroborations, for the two logically exclude each other. But as both are exceedingly well corroborated, they would both have had a greater probability than ½ (½ would mean: no corroboration). Thus, their sum would be greater than 1, which is impossible. It follows that corroboration cannot be a probability.

“… It would be interesting to hear what the theoreticians of induction … who identify the degree of corroboration (or the ‘degree of rational belief’) with a degree of probability — would have to say about this simple refutation of their theory.” (Popper, Karl. 2009. The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge, xxivn. New York: Routledge.)

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