An interesting but far from easy question. There are many definitions out there, but there is some common ground to them. They all tend to agree that a theory. A scientific hypothesis must meet 2 requirements: In his youth, Karl Popper studied the "social theory" of Karl Marx and the "psychological. "[T]o be considered a scientific theory by most scientists and philosophers of science, a theory must meet most, if not all, of certain logical.
However, theories do not generally make assumptions in the conventional sense statements accepted without evidence. While assumptions are often incorporated during the formation of new theories, these are either supported by evidence such as from previously existing theories or the evidence is produced in the course of validating the theory. This may be as simple as observing that the theory makes accurate predictions, which is evidence that any assumptions made at the outset are correct or approximately correct under the conditions tested.
Conventional assumptions, without evidence, may be used if the theory is only intended to apply when the assumption is valid or approximately valid. For example, the special theory of relativity assumes an inertial frame of reference. The theory makes accurate predictions when the assumption is valid, and does not make accurate predictions when the assumption is not valid.
What Is a Scientific Theory?
Such assumptions are often the point with which older theories are succeeded by new ones the general theory of relativity works in non-inertial reference frames as well. The term "assumption" is actually broader than its standard use, etymologically speaking. The Oxford English Dictionary OED and online Wiktionary indicate its Latin source as assumere "accept, to take to oneself, adopt, usurp"which is a conjunction of ad- "to, towards, at" and sumere to take.
The root survives, with shifted meanings, in the Italian assumere and Spanish sumir. The first sense of "assume" in the OED is "to take unto oneselfreceive, accept, adopt". The term was originally employed in religious contexts as in "to receive up into heaven", especially "the reception of the Virgin Mary into heaven, with body preserved from corruption", CE but it was also simply used to refer to "receive into association" or "adopt into partnership".
Moreover, other senses of assumere included i "investing oneself with an attribute ", ii "to undertake" especially in Lawiii "to take to oneself in appearance only, to pretend to possess", and iv "to suppose a thing to be" all senses from OED entry on "assume"; the OED entry for "assumption" is almost perfectly symmetrical in senses.
Thus, "assumption" connotes other associations than the contemporary standard sense of "that which is assumed or taken for granted; a supposition, postulate" only the 11th of 12 senses of "assumption", and the 10th of 11 senses of "assume". From philosophers of science[ edit ] Karl Popper described the characteristics of a scientific theory as follows: Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory—an event which would have refuted the theory.
Every "good" scientific theory is a prohibition: The more a theory forbids, the better it is. A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific.
Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory as people often think but a vice. Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability: Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory; and this means that it can be presented as a serious but unsuccessful attempt to falsify the theory.
I now speak in such cases of "corroborating evidence". Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, might still be upheld by their admirers—for example by introducing post hoc after the fact some auxiliary hypothesis or assumption, or by reinterpreting the theory post hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation.
Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status, by tampering with evidence. The temptation to tamper can be minimized by first taking the time to write down the testing protocol before embarking on the scientific work.
Popper summarized these statements by saying that the central criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its "falsifiability, or refutability, or testability". It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model that contains only a few arbitrary elements, and it must make definite predictions about the results of future observations. Rather, people suggested that another planet influenced Uranus' orbit—and this prediction was indeed eventually confirmed.
Kitcher agrees with Popper that "There is surely something right in the idea that a science can succeed only if it can fail. He insists we view scientific theories as an "elaborate collection of statements", some of which are not falsifiable, while others—those he calls "auxiliary hypotheses", are.
According to Kitcher, good scientific theories must have three features: Good theories consist of just one problem-solving strategy, or a small family of problem-solving strategies, that can be applied to a wide range of problems. Because a theory presents a new way of looking at the world, it can lead us to ask new questions, and so to embark on new and fruitful lines of inquiry…. Typically, a flourishing science is incomplete. At any time, it raises more questions than it can currently answer.
But incompleteness is not vice.
On the contrary, incompleteness is the mother of fecundity…. A good theory should be productive; it should raise new questions and presume those questions can be answered without giving up its problem-solving strategies.
Like other definitions of theories, including Popper's, Kitcher makes it clear that a theory must include statements that have observational consequences. But, like the observation of irregularities in the orbit of Uranus, falsification is only one possible consequence of observation. The production of new hypotheses is another possible and equally important result. Analogies and metaphors[ edit ] The concept of a scientific theory has also been described using analogies and metaphors.
For instance, the logical empiricist Carl Gustav Hempel likened the structure of a scientific theory to a "complex spatial network: The whole system floats, as it were, above the plane of observation and is anchored to it by the rules of interpretation. These might be viewed as strings which are not part of the network but link certain points of the latter with specific places in the plane of observation.
By virtue of these interpretive connections, the network can function as a scientific theory: From certain observational data, we may ascend, via an interpretive string, to some point in the theoretical network, thence proceed, via definitions and hypotheses, to other points, from which another interpretive string permits a descent to the plane of observation. A theory is something other than myself.
It may be set out on paper as a system of rules, and it is the more truly a theory the more completely it can be put down in such terms. Mathematical theory reaches the highest perfection in this respect. But even a geographical map fully embodies in itself a set of strict rules for finding one's way through a region of otherwise uncharted experience.
Indeed, all theory may be regarded as a kind of map extended over space and time. InGalileo Galilei wrote: It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it; without these, one is wandering around in a dark labyrinth.
I myself prefer an Argentine fantasy. God did not write a Book of Nature of the sort that the old Europeans imagined. He wrote a Borgesian library, each book of which is as brief as possible, yet each book of which is inconsistent with every other. No book is redundant.
A scientific hypothesis must be testable, but there is a much stronger requirement that a testable hypothesis must meet before it can really be considered scientific. This criterion comes primarily from the work of the philosopher of science Karl Popperand is called "falsifiability".
Hypothesis B may be either correct or wrong. If it is correct, there are several ways that its correctness can be proven, including: A space probe sent from earth to explore the universe sends back the news that it has discovered an inhabited planet.
This news is later confirmed by other space probes. Radio telescopes on earth begin to receive signals from somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy that appear to be reruns of the "I Love Telek" show.
I am Telek from the planet Zoron in the Andromeda Galaxy. I have just landed in your backyard. Take me to your leader. But, the hypothesis may be wrong. If Hypothesis B is wrong, there is no test that will prove it.
If one of our space probes never finds an inhabited planet, it doesn't mean that one doesn't exist. If we never receive signals from space, or Telek never lands in your back yard, that does not prove that the hypothesis is wrong, either.
Hypothesis B is not falsifiable. It is testable - pick 2 objects, and drop them. Of course, you may have to provide a vacuum for them to fall in, in order to remove air resistance from consideration. It is falsifiable - If anyone finds 2 objects that don't hit the ground at the same time and can show that it is not due to air resistance, then she has proven the hypothesis wrong.
This hypothesis "sticks its neck out" for every test. In theory and in practice, if Hypothesis C were wrong, it would be very easy and straightforward to show it.
Scientific theory - Wikipedia
Both of these ideas claimed a scientific basis, and both could produce evidence to support their hypotheses - historical evidence on the part of Marx, and clinical case studies on the part of the Freud.
Popper eventually became unhappy with both Marx and Freud and their followers because he felt that they were both too quick to "explain away" any evidence that contradicted their ideas. For instance, Marx had predicted that the communist revolution would begin in a highly industrialized country, like Britain or Germany.
Instead, the communist revolution occurred in Russia, which was hardly industrialized at the time, and never spread to the industrialized nations.
- Scientific theory
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Marx's followers explained this by claiming that it was due to "unforseen historical accidents" and Marx wasn't actually wrong. Popper also noted that Freud often used essentially the same explanation to explain vastly different behavior - a brutal murderer was acting under the same influences as a generous philanthropist. Einstein said, in effect among other things"If you look at stars near the Sun during a total eclipse, you should observe a specific behavior.
If this doesn't happen, my theory is wrong. Popper felt that this was the essence of a real scientific hypothesis. The process of gaining real confidence in a hypothesis, then, is not in accumulating evidence in its favor, but rather in showing that situations that could establish its falsity don't, in fact, happen.
A scientific hypothesis is a suggested solution for an unexplained occurrence that doesn't fit into a currently accepted scientific theory. In other words, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionarya hypothesis is an idea that hasn't been proven yet. If enough evidence accumulates to support a hypothesisit moves to the next step — known as a theory — in the scientific method and becomes accepted as a valid explanation of a phenomenon.
Tanner further explained that a scientific theory is the framework for observations and facts.Game Theory: The Science of Decision-Making
Theories may change, or the way that they are interpreted may change, but the facts themselves don't change. Tanner likens theories to a basket in which scientists keep facts and observations that they find. The shape of that basket may change as the scientists learn more and include more facts. Theory basics The University of California, Berkley, defines a theory as "a broad, natural explanation for a wide range of phenomena.
Theories are concise, coherent, systematic, predictive, and broadly applicable, often integrating and generalizing many hypotheses.