Discussion Questions on Lakatos (the first ten pertain to the first assignment)
1. What is "justificationism"? What modifications do "probabilists" make to justificationism? Is probabilism still a version of justificationism?
2. What does dogmatic falsificationism add to the claim that scientific theories are logically falsifiable?
3. Lakatos lists three difficulties with the claim that scientific theories can be conclusively disproven by means of experiment. What are they? Is there any way to defend dogmatic falsificationism from them?
4. What is conventionalism, and what makes methodological falsificationism a version of conventionalism? How, according to Lakatos, does it differ from the conservative conventionalism defended by scientists such as Poincaré?
5. According to Lakatos (106), Popper relies on 'observation statements' or 'basic statements', but only with the quotation marks. What does he mean?
6. What are the five decisions that (naive) methodological falsificationism relies on?
7. The methodological falsificationist distinguishes between "falsification" and "disproof" or between rejection and disproof. How?
8. Lakatos describes the methodological falsificationist as "savage" (111) and as a "daredevil" (p. 112). Why?
9. How does the methodological falsificationist avoid having to choose between justificationism and skepticism?
10. On page 115 Lakatos mentions two features of the history of science that conflict with both naive methodological falsificationism and dogmatic falsificationism. What are they and why are they important?
11. How do sophisticated and naive methodological falsificationism differ. Is sophisticate methodological falsificationism really a version of falsificationism? Can one regard it as a peculiar kind of justificationism?
12. Why does sophisticated methodological falsificationism shift the object of appraisal from theories to sequences of theories? How, according to sophisticated methodological falsificationism, are series of theories to be appraised?
13. How does sophisticated methodological falsificationism avoid some of the decisions that the naive methodological falsificationist has to make?
14. What is the tacking paradox and why is it a problem for the sophisticated methodological falsificationist?
15. What does the methodology of scientific research programmes add to sophisticated methodological falsificationism?
16. What does the methodology of scientific research programmes borrow from Kuhn? How does Lakatos reinterpret the phenomena from history of science that Kuhn discusses?