Who is the postivist? AND Popper

James Francis Lyons-Weiler weiler at ERS.UNR.EDU
Mon Dec 8 07:54:30 CST 1997

On Mon, 8 Dec 1997, Thomas Schlemmermeyer wrote:

> Hello, i did not study philosophy but I think the below given problem
> was already discussed by Popper,
> >
> > >         as such, after much debate, the
> > >       idea emerged that such inferences amount to "weak
> > >       corroboration" but not at all firmly within the realm of
> > >       falsificationism.
> Falsification is within empirical sciences. Evolutionary history
> is a historical science. It refers to unique, singular historical events
> which cannot be repeated experimentally.
> Thus, falsification is not possible!

        Every hypothesis has to be tested after the processes
        that are involved have occured.  Every test is performed
        on data that have aleady been collected.  Repeatability
        is not the only criterion for falsifiability.

> Popper admits that evolution is metaphysics!!!

        He was talking about natural selection.

> So what can Popper contribute to the actual biodiversity problems (ecology,
> systematics and conservation)?????

        Let me give some real examples.  Conservation biologists have
        happened upon the idea that evolutionary trees might be useful to
        indicate which taxa are distinctive, and therefore deserve
        the highest conservation priority.  Such taxa, as distinctive
        as they are, might tend to mislead parsimony by branch
        attraction.  A more severe, critical test (references
        available) points out (a) the taxon is on a long edge, and
        therefore (b) it is likely to be misplaced in the
        parsimony tree.  Popper's relevance is that he always
        insisted on the use of the most critical tests.


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