Philosophy of Science: Does Biology proceed "Incrementally" or by "Revolutions" ?


Logical Positivism

    AKA empiricism

    Verificationist Theory of Meaning (Karl Hempel, 1905 - 1997)

    "Colorless green ideas Sleep furiously" (Noam Chomsky, 1957)

        Grammatical but semantically meaningless


Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951)

    Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) [Text]

        Seven Propositions & commentary

Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)

    The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1934; 1959)

    The Open Society and its Enemies (1945)

    Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963)

    Falsification as a Criterion of Demarcation

        "All Swans are White" can be disproved

        Cf. failure of Kelvin & Jenkin disproofs of Natural Selection

        Fallacy of Induction & Skeptical Despair of Reason


Thomas Kuhn (1922 - 1996)

    Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962; Revised 1970, 1996, 2012)

        "Normal" vs "Revolutionary" Science

        "Paradigms" & paradigm shifts

        (Cf. Copernican Revolution, Quantum Physics, Michelson-Morley Experiment)


Incrementalism vs Revolution in Biology

    EA Carlson (2018) How Scientific Progress Occurs

    Kuhn to Carlson: Physics is theory-driven, Biology is descriptive

    For Discussion:

        Charles Darwin introduces Natural Selection

replaces Argument from Design

        Watson, Crick et al. introduce DNA

            Potential for self-replication

            Potential as information molecule

            Molecular Biology of the Gene

                Replaces Mendel / Morgan "Genetics"

        Germ Theory of Disease


Good Science, Bad Science, Pseudo-Science, etc.

    Phlogiston Chemistry (17th cent) vs Alchemy

    "Cold Fusion" physics (1989)

    Acupuncture & traditional Chinese medicine

    Astrology vs Astronomy (16th cent)

    Natural Selection vs "Intelligent Design" (21st cent)

Text ©2018 by Steven M Carr