BaalChatzaf Posted June 29, 2007 Share Posted June 29, 2007 In order to do science we must found our sciences on postulate systems that contain at least on universally quantified proposition. Otherwise we would have only a finite list of particular and individual declarative sentences from which little could be inferred. We refer to such universally quantified propositions as -physical laws-. Examples abound: the assumptions of thermodynamics, the conservations laws, the symmetry laws, etc. But do notice that we have not, nor can we establish the truth of these laws by empirical means. No finite set of verifying instances establishes the truth of a universal physical law at all places for all time. On the other hand we have no choice but to posit such laws or science would not be possible. Which leads to the conclusion that the best of our sciences may be taken as provisionally true. Our physical theories are upheld by millions of instance observation under a wide variety of conditions in many places and no refuting condition has yet been found empirically. So we have sufficient reason for holding these laws to be true, but we DO NOT HAVE absolute proof that these laws are everywhere and forever true. We are in the position of the man who holds induction to be valid because it has always worked so far. Do you see what the problem is?Those closest thing we have to certain knowledge is a set of particulars known first hand. And even there mistakes are possible. Everything else is second hand or inferential, and this is far from absolute or certain.Bottom line: Our best scientific theories should be regarded as provisionally and contingently true, not absolutely or certainly true. Ba'al Chatzaf Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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