Logical Maximalism in the Empirical Sciences

In Parusniková Zuzana & Merritt David (eds.), Karl Popper's Science and Philosophy. Springer. pp. 171-184 (2021)
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K. R. Popper distinguished between two main uses of logic, the demonstrational one, in mathematical proofs, and the derivational one, in the empirical sciences. These two uses are governed by the following methodological constraints: in mathematical proofs one ought to use minimal logical means (logical minimalism), while in the empirical sciences one ought to use the strongest available logic (logical maximalism). In this paper I discuss whether Popper’s critical rationalism is compatible with a revision of logic in the empirical sciences, given the condition of logical maximalism. Apparently, if one ought to use the strongest logic in the empirical sciences, logic would remain immune to criticism and, thus, non-revisable. I will show that critical rationalism is theoretically compatible with a revision of logic in the empirical sciences. However, a question that remains to be clarified by the critical rationalists is what kind of evidence would lead them to revise the system of logic that underlies a physical theory, such as quantum mechanics? Popper’s falsificationist methodology will be compared with the recently advocated extension of the abductive methodology from the empirical sciences to logic by T. Williamson, since both of them arrive at the same conclusion concerning the status of classical logic.

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Constantin C. Brîncuș
Institute of Philosophy and Psychology, Romanian Academy


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