The Death of Socrates

The Death of Socrates

Friday, 14 January 2011

Occam and Testability

The fact that a hypothesis is non-testable and therefore unscientific does not render that hypothesis "beyond the pale". There is no a priori reason to believe that all true theories are testable and Occam's Rasor is not a principle of metaphysics (as it is often portrayed) but simply a practical epistemological stratagem. It is always better to first eliminate those ideas which it is easy to eliminate before going on to ideas which are less easy to criticise. That is all that Occam and "testability"amounts to.

Don't get me wrong, I still think that Occam should be followed almost religiously, and I think that MultiVersism and the Anthropic Principle should be put on the back-burner rather than rolled out as an answer to all questions. However, one simply cannot use Occam or Popper to outlaw what Popper called "Metaphysics". Without Metaphysics there can be no physics - as the truth of the ideas which motivate physics and give it a rationale are untestable.

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