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the methodological position (particularly associated with Karl Popper, 1934) based on the notion that while an inductive universal generalization can never be finally verified, given the ever-present possibility of new and potentially refuting evidence, a single nonsupporting occurrence can refute a hypothesis (e.g. a single black swan refutes the general hypothesis that ‘all swans are white’). According to this view (and in contrast with LOGICAL POSITIVISM, see also EMPIRICISM), science can be defined in terms of the ‘falsifiability’ rather than the ‘verifiability’ of its theories and hypotheses, and the essential provisionality of scientific knowledge acknowledged. For Popper, the ‘falsifiability’ of a discipline's propositions is the decisive criterion ofdemarcation between science and non-science.

A virtue of this ‘realist’, rather than empiricist, position, is that it recognizes the importance of hypotheses and theories within science, and of changes in scientific knowledge, thus also captures something of the ‘critical spirit’ of science. Hence, this position is sometimes also referred to as critical rationalism.

Although it has attracted some support among social scientists, critics of falsificationism challenge its cogency on a number of counts:

  1. that ‘the facts’ which are put forward as the basis of the ‘independent’ test of theories and hypotheses are themselves ‘theory-laden’ – experiments, for example, are both constituted by and interpreted using theories;
  2. in practice, in science, and contrary to the position that can be termed naive falsificationism, it turns out that a single refutation is rarely decisive, the rejection and replacement of theories being a matter of a more overall judgement of the cogency and effectiveness of theories;
  3. the attempt (see Lakatos and Musgrave, 1970) to replace naive falsificationism with a sophisticated falsificationism, in which an overall judgement is made between progressive and degenerating scientific research programmes, fails to overcome the problems of falsificationism, for if no single observation is decisive, falsification loses its distinctive position; it no longer provides a clear cut rule of thumb in the day-to day procedures of science, or any clear overall demarcation between science and non-science.

For many commentators (e.g. see FEYERABEND, 1975), the procedures suggested for science by falsificationists simply fail to fit the past and present activities of science, and if used strictly would be likely to cripple it. See also COVERING-LAW MODEL AND DEDUCTIVE NOMOLOGICAL EXPLANATION, HYPOTHETICO-DEDUCTIVE EXPLANATION AND METHOD, SOCIOLOGY OF SCIENCE, SCIENTIFIC PARADIGM.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
Similar matchings can be made for Falsificationism and Kuhn's Paradigms.
Instead my support for the reality of climate change is determined by its credibility: whereas science is based on evidence, peer review, logic, and falsificationism, the other camp gets its "alternative facts" from ancient myths, hearsay, self-interest, and official misinformation.
These aspects are: a) the connection with 'external references,' or empirical data (falsificationism); b) linguistic particularity and consistency (Kuhn's paradigms); and c) the internal structure as a defense strategy from rival speeches (Lakatos' 'research programs').
His denial of absolute knowledge and belief in falsificationism lead him to conclude that man is antecedent individual.
Kuhn (1970a) introduced paradigms to historically explain the process of theory development in discontinuous successions of normal and revolutionary periods; his theory refuted the orthodox assumptions of the then dominant falsificationism. In this article, I argue that re-reading Kuhn's original work allows an interpretation which has hitherto been grossly unnoticed in many fields outside the sociology of science: namely, a shift of emphasis from the "believing in" to the "doing of" paradigms, by adequately recognizing the pivotal role social practices play in Kuhn's account (Barnes 2003; Nickles 2003; Rouse 1998, 2003; Vogel, 2011).
Rao then considers Karl Popper's falsificationism and Imre Lakatos's notion of research programmes, and he outlines problems with each position.
In the distorting mirror of naive falsificationism, new theories which replace old refuted ones, are themselves born unrefuted.
Polyani's target was the delusion of complete objectivity as an ideal for the exact sciences and also the positivism, or more correctly, logical empiricism of the Vienna Circle, and Popper's falsificationism. This is in part the reason that Polyani subtitles his book 'a post-critical philosophy' because it was designed to take its readers beyond Popper's critical rationalism to the realm of personal knowledge which Polyani saw as a suitable substitute and ideal for science.
"Hoppe on Falsificationism, Empiricism, and Apriorism and Protophysics." Mises Economics Blog.
* Falsificationism in technology (Popper, 1934, 1972): Knowledge and theories evolve and the measure of their evolutionary fitness is the number of attempted falsification tests they have successfully passed.