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What is Logical Positivism?


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Logical Positivism was one of the most important schools of philosophy of science in the beginning 20th century. The “Vienna Circle”, a group of scientists, mathematicians and philosophers, contributed greatly in promoting this philosophical view.

When I was younger, in my teens, I started to discover my love for the sciences. I was fascinated by Biology and Physics and I think I must have driven my teachers crazy with my constant request for “proofs” and evidence. I liked science so much that I even included chemical formulas in my literature essays. Instead of saying “The water waves are gently moving in the sunset.” I’d write “Waves made of H2O are gently moving in the solar spectrum.” My English teacher then responded, “Don’t forget about the H2SO4 (sulfuric acid) which is dissolved as well!”. An then I didn’t feel as bad about the bad mark on the test anymore… Now I am teacher myself and occasionally I meet some students who remind me very much of myself. They are constantly confronting me with the words “How do you know that?” – always eager for empirical, scientific evidence. They want to see things before they believe it. They want formulas. They want cause and effect relationships. Without having been aware of it, I myself as well as my students, were followers of a certain philosophical school. We were “Positivists”. Continue reading »

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What is Falsification?


 

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In this edition of TOK-TALK we will talk about Karl Poppers contributions to the philosophy of science. Sir Reimund Karl Popper is considered to be one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, and of course it is difficult, if not impossible to summarize his contributions in a few minutes (or a few lines). Where should you draw the line between the sciences and the pseudosciences? What characterizes scientific theories? In this edition we will have a look at the falsification principle which offers an answer to these questions.

In this edition of TOKTalk I will talk about Karl Poppers contributions to the philosophy of science. What makes a theory scientific and what is the principle of falsification? Listen to find out! Continue reading »

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