This definition is good, what we expect, except for the fact that it refers to the non technical meaning of falsifiable. I am only talking about the wiktionary link that sends us to the non epistemological definition of falsifiable. Here is what Popper has to say about this:
- "We must distinguish two meanings of the expressions falsifiable and falsifiability:
- "1) Falsifiable as a logical-technical term, in the sense of the demarcation criterion of falsifiability. This purely logical concept — falsifiable in principle, one might say — rests on a logical relation between the theory in question and the class of basic statements (or the potential falsifiers described by them).
- "2) Falsifiable in the sense that the theory in question can definitively or conclusively or demonstrably be falsified ("demonstrably falsifiable").
- "I have always stressed that even a theory which is obviously falsifiable in the first sense is never falsifiable in this second sense. (For this reason I have used the expression falsifiable as a rule only in the first, technical sense. In the second sense, I have as a rule spoken not of falsifiability but rather of falsification and of its problems)"
- Karl Popper, Realism and the Aim of Science: From the Postscript to The Logic of Scientific Discovery, p. XII
This is a point that is often, too often, misunderstood, but Popper could not have been more clear about this. If you insist, I could give you many more quotes from Popper, where he makes very clear that it is only at the logical level that the falsifiability criterion works. For example, see The Logic of Scientific Discovery, section 22. Note the Logic in the title - this is the whole point. The falsifiers, the so called basic statements that can contradict the theory, needs only to exist so that the logic can apply. They must also be empirical, that is, given accepted conventions, they must be testable through repeated observations.
Just so that you appreciate the subtleties here, let me mention that, as is very well recognized by Popper, the same objections against the verifiability of theories also apply to the verifiability of the falsifiers. This makes clear that falsifiability does not mean that it can be proven false. Popper actually explains that this is impossible. Many have interpreted this as a failure of Popper falsifiability criterion, but they have not read Popper carefully. Popper carefully responded to all questions about this in Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach, Chapter 1. In any case, even if one does not accept Popper's theory, one must at the least respects the technical definition. We cannot change a definition.
The definition is given informally in The Logic of Scientific Discovery, p. 19, but, in my opinion, one cannot give justice to falsifiability while being informal out of context. It's OK, of course, when Popper is informal to motivate the concept and we have all the context. Here is a better definition:
- "A theory is to be called ‘empirical’ or ‘falsifiable’ if it divides the class of all possible basic statements unambiguously into the following two non-empty subclasses. First, the class of all those basic statements with which it is inconsistent (or which it rules out, or prohibits): we call this the class of the potential falsifiers of the theory; and secondly, the class of those basic statements which it does not contradict (or which it ‘permits’). We can put this more briefly by saying: a theory is falsifiable if the class of its potential falsifiers is not empty."
- Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1959), p.65
- You may be right, but be careful about confusing technically correctness with lexical correctness: if people mean a particular thing when they say something, that's what it means, whether it's correct or incorrect from a technical perspective. We're a descriptive dictionary, so we go by how it's actually used, not by how some authority like Popper says it should be used. Chuck Entz (talk) 04:42, 13 June 2018 (UTC)
- You are right that it is the usage that matters. Clearly, in epistomology, the word falsifiability is associated with Popper. Popper introduced a new technical criterion and named it falsifiability or refutability. If one refers to falsifiability in epistomology, one refers to the criterion that was proposed by Popper. Some scholars disagree with Popper, because they have misunderstood his definition, but even then they refer to Popper's falsifiability, for example, they might say that Popper's falsifiability has the same issues as the traditional concept of verifiability. Some might have understood his defintion and still disagree. Others agree. It does not matter that they disagree or not, if it is Popper's falsifiability, we have to use the correct definition - we cannot change it. It is similar to the mathematical term category. The technical concept of categories in Mathematics, which was introduced by Mac Lane, is not the same thing as in the normal, day to day, usage of the word category - it's a bit related, but mixing both as if it was the same concept would be non sense. In exactly the same way, the technical concept of falsifiability, which was introduced by Popper, should not be confused with the day to day concept of falsifiability. I thought it would be obvious. If you disagree or are not sure, we should check with others. This is too important. At the least, if there is an ambiguity about the technical meaning of falsifiability, then we should give the two technical meanings. To my knowledge, there is only one concept of falsifiability in epistomology and it is the demarcation criterion proposed by Popper. Dominic Mayers (talk) 08:31, 13 June 2018 (UTC)
- Perhaps the confusion is only because you have not understood that my point is that every thing is correct in the definition, except for the fact that the wiktionary link for falsifiable sends us to the non epistemological definition of falsifiable. Falsificationism is a term in epistomology, therefore it should refer to the technical meaning of falsifiable that is used in epistomology. As you say, we must respect the normal usage. Unfortunately, the usual technical meaning of falsifiable is not available in Wiktionary. Dominic Mayers (talk) 08:52, 13 June 2018 (UTC)
- In case there is a doubt and one might think that falsifiable in epistomology does not refer to Popper's criterion, I would like to point out that, even in courts of law, when they refer to falsifiability, they refer to Popper's criterion. They might not understand it, but they still refer to Popper, they even quote him. So, I am really referring to how the term falsifiability is actually used by scholars, lawyers, etc. in the context of epistomology. Dominic Mayers (talk) 09:02, 13 June 2018 (UTC)