Logical Empiricism

Logical empiricist philosophy of Science, as represented by Sir Karl Popper and others around 1950 provided the perfect philosophical foundation for modern empirical science. It finally did away with the naive empiricism founded on Hume's induction logic.

The abstraction and idealization process, always present in scientific modelling, be it zero dimensional mass points or utility maximizing consumers, was allowed for. The same was true about the theoretical concepts, such as gravity, electron shells, or the subconscious, which could not be completely defined in terms of empirically observed facts.

Yet there was a linkage to reality through the empirical generalizations, deductively derived statements in which the theoretical concepts had been eliminated, only empirically meaningful concepts, observable through operational rules, remaining.

For instance: Newton's theory contained the abstract concept of gravitation. From it Kepler's three laws of planetary motion could be derived through logical deduction.

Kepler's laws, however, do not contain the concept of gravitation, or any other theoretical concept. They are statements about the shapes, sizes and revolution times for the orbits of the planets, all of them concepts that are empirically observable through appropriate operational rules.

The important fact about empirical generalizations was that they could be refuted by experiment or observation. As they had been derived from the abstract theory by deductive logic, the theory had to be refuted along with any empirical generalization derived from it according to the laws of that logic, more precisely the modus tollens inference.

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