A Defence of Falsificationism against Feyerabend's Epistemological Anarchism using the Example of Galilei's Observations with the Telescope

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I confront Feyerabend's position and critical rationalism in order to have a foundation or starting point for my (historical) investigation. The main difference of his position towards falsificationism is the belief that different theories cannot be discussed rationally. Feyerabend is convinced that Galilei's observations with the telescope in the historical context of the Copernican revolution supports his criticism. In particular, he argues that the Copernican theory was supported by deficient hypotheses, and falsifications were disposed by ad hoc hypotheses and propaganda. Furthermore, he claims that his philosophy of science reconstructs Galilei's defence of the Copernican theory. He introduces a central principle of his position (the principle of tenacity) in order to justify a research strategy of not eliminating falsified theories. He tries to show that the tenacious defence of a theory corresponds to Galilei's defence of the Copernican theory. Remarkably, Feyerabend's approach to explain the development of science earns an important support from his interpretation of Galilei's observations. On this basis I give a falsificationist interpretation of Galilei's observations with the telescope, and oppose this interpretation to Feyerabend's. From a falsificationist perspective, auxiliary hypotheses compete during the Copernican revolution which can (with some effort) be critically discussed. Then I analyse the historical case in order to test Feyerabend's interpretation of the Copernican revolution. Inter alias I investigate thoroughly whether Galilei, as Feyerabend claims, immunised falsifications of the Copernican theory by the introduction of ad hoc hypotheses. The investigation considers Galilei's explanation of Venus' phases, his establishment of the irradiation hypothesis, the explanation of the telescope's functionality, and the role of the reproducibility of the observations with the telescope. Finally I provide a rational reconstruction of Galilei's falsification of the Ptolemaic theory. The formalisation shows that Galilei was not a cautious critical rationalist, but a very confident scientist using the method of falsification.
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Archival date: 2013-05-31
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