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Theory: "Saddam Hussein has built weapons of mass destruction that he intends to use against America and her allies"

george-bush.jpg (25779 bytes) Does this theory have:

Epistemic values - "scientific values":

  • predictive accuracy - the ability to forecast what we have not yet observed
  • internal coherence - the various parts of the theory should not contradict each other
  • external consistency - the theory should not contradict other accepted theories, or 'laws of nature'
  • unifying power - the theory should bring together and explain previously disparate areas of knowledge
  • fertility - the theory should generate novel hypotheses
  • falsifiability - it should be possible to construct hypotheses that could lead to the rejection of the theory - this is an especially important scientific value
  • simplicity and elegance - this is a value judgement i.e. it is a subjective judgement made by scientists. Consequently simplicity is a desired characteristic rather than a defining characteristic of a scientific theory.

Does this theory have:

Non-epistemic - "cultural values" factors refer to

  • factors in our culture that persuade us to construct a theory of reality based on our cultural experiences
  • the feedback-influence of scientific theories on our culture
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Can we apply the scientific method to test this theory?

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Derive predictions:

The theory predicts that:

Design tests & collect observations:

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  • Send inspection teams to Iraq to search for weapons

  • Monitor communications for evidence of contact between Sadaam and terrorist groups

  • Fly surveillance missions over Iraq

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Analyse data & report findings

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  • Dr Hans Blix reports to UN on findings of UN inspectors
  • Colin Powell submits intelligence reports from surveillance flights and communications monitoring
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Evaluate the outcome

  • Predictions supported; Yes or No?

  • Ask new question, make new predictions etc....

  • Curiousity satisfied? Derive new predictions etc...

  • Go to new topic

  • Abandon theory

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