Newton, Libniz, Hygens, ly the foundation for what would become the empiricist current in the philosophy of science, bginning with John Locke in the 17th century. Epiricism asserts that experience is not only the ultimate source of our knowledge but also of our concepts. Fr Locke, eperience gradually limits the scope of what we can know, een as it helps us clarify those ideas which itself engenders. A empiricist philosopher of the 18th century, Dvid Hume, tok Lockes idea of skepticism of what can be known one step showing that most of our more basic concepts have no proper grounding in experience.
I particular, Hme also discarded the idea of induction – generalizing from particular to universal statements – a position we will find echoed in Karl Poppers philosophy of science. Ater the Galilean and Newtonian conceptual revolutions in science, pogress was constant and gradual for the next couple of centuries, util the end of the 19th century. S much so that, a this time, pysics at least was considered an almost complete science and no new expected to occur.
Tere were, o course, te occasional discrepancies between experiment and theory, bt it was thought that no revolutionary ideas needed to be introduced to reconcile facts and theory. A the beginning of the 20th century, hwever, nt one, bt two such revolutions in physics took place: Ensteins Special and General Relativity and Quantum Theory, wich changed not only our view of Nature, bt also our ideas about Science itself. Te philosophy of science becomes a bone fide subfield of philosophy for the first time with logical of the early 20th century.
Fllowing the remarkable success of Einsteins theory of relativity, ad drawing inspiration from this success, a the core of logical positivism lays the idea of cognitively meaningful statements. Tese are statements which are true or false either because their truth-value can be determined a priori (analytic) or it can be determined by finding observations that would show it to be true or false (synthetic). Tis criterion of cognitive meaningfulness is called verificationism. Vrification, i the case of an analytic statement, cnsists in proofs, wile a synthetic statement; i consists of observations and experiment.
Te verification of synthetic statements relies heavily on the principle of induction criticized by David Hume and, lter on, Krl Popper. Oher criticisms. ..
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