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Review chapter 3 Theories

Karl Popper, Logic of Scientific Discovery

Empirical sciences are merely systems of theories, which are mostly universal ones.
The scientific theories are, like all linguistic representations, systems of signs and
In order to give a causal explanation of an event to deduce a statement which
describes it, it is mandatory to use as premises of the deduction one or more
universal laws, together with certain regular statements, so called the initial
conditions. This leads to general idea that there are two different kinds of
statement, both of which being necessary for a complete causal explanation the
universal statement (hypotheses of the character of natural laws) and the singular
statement (which applies to specific events also known as initial condition) .
The principle of causality is the assertion that any event can be causally explained,
which means that it can be deductively predicted and it can be either tautological
(analytic) or an assertion about reality (synthetic). The universal synthetic
statement can also be classified as the strictly universal theories or natural laws and the numerically universal certain singular statements or conjunctions of
singular statement. These principles have as a base the formal logic concept which
is concerned with the theory of deduction who treats these two types of statements
alike as universal statements (formal or general implications).
The distinction between universal and singular statements is closely related with
that between universal and individual concepts names and is having a fundamental
importance because every application of science is based upon an inference from
scientific hypotheses (which are universal) to singular cases.
The logical basis of application for this kind is that individual concepts may be
concepts not only of elements but also of classes and they stand to universal
concepts in a relation corresponding to that of an element to a class or of a subclass to a class. An individual concept is a concept in the definition of which proper
names (or equivalent signs) are indispensable. If any reference to proper names can
be completely eliminated, then the concept is a universal concept.

Any attempt to identify an individual thing merely by its universal properties and
relations, which appear to belong to it alone and to nothing else, is foredoomed to
failure because such a procedure should describe not a single individual thing but
the universal class of all those individuals to which these properties and relations

belong; the idea is that even the use of a universal spatio-temporal system of coordinates would alter still nothing.
The statements to which only universal names and no individual names occur are
called strict or pure and the most important among them are the strictly
universal statements and its negotiation is always equivalent to a strictly existential
statement which cannot be falsified- and vice versa.
The strict statements, whether they are universal or existential, are not limited to
space nor time. They do not refer to an individual, restricted, spatio -temporal
region, this being the reason why they cannot be falsified. Nevertheless, both kinds
of pure statements are in principle empirically decidable each, however, in one way
only: they are unilaterally decidable.
On the other side, a theoretical system may be said to be axiomatized if a set of
statements, the axioms, has been formulated and satisfies the major four
fundamental requirements: free from conduction, independent, sufficient and
necessary; these axioms may be regarded either as conventions or as empirical or
scientific hypothesis.
The interpretation of an axiomatic system as a system of implicit definitions can
also be expressed by saying that it amounts to the decision that only models may
be admitted as substitutes, but if a model is substituted then the result will be a
system of analytic statements. An axiomatic system interpreted in this way cannot
therefore be regarded as a system of empirical or scientific hypothesis since it
cannot be refuted by the falsification of its consequences,, for these two it must be
Within a theoretical system, it can be distinguished statements belonging to various
levels of universality the statement on the highest level of universality are the
axioms and the statements with the lower levels can be deduced from them. The
higher level empirical statements have always the character of hypotheses relative
to the lower level statements deducible from them and they can be falsified by the
falsification of these less universal statements. But in any hypothetical deductive
system, these less universal statements are themselves still strictly universal
statements. Thus they must have the character of hypothesis, a fact which often
has been overlooked in the case of lower level universal statements.

Elena Nichifor
Group number 2