RE: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised

From: Alexanian, Moorad (
Date: Thu Sep 18 2003 - 14:59:11 EDT

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    The distinction between the theories of Ptolemy and Copernicus was not merely aesthetic. Simplicity plays a major role. The behavior of a double pendulum can be predicted, the equations are deterministic. However, long-range predictions are difficult to obtain but can be obtained in principle---deterministic chaos.


    Cosmology is akin to forensic science. It is more deductive than inductive. Just like evolutionary theory but unlike physics, which is an experimental science. Of course, cosmologists do use all that physicists can provide but there is more to it since one is dealing with a unique event.



            -----Original Message-----
            From: on behalf of Brian Harper
            Sent: Thu 9/18/2003 12:30 PM
            Subject: RE: Post-Empiricism Science: A little surprised
            At 08:38 AM 9/17/2003 -0400, Alexanian, Moorad wrote:

                    Ancients used to explain eclipses and why the sun rises but could not make predictions. The essence of a scientific theory is the ability to make predictions and not merely give explanations, which is pure phenomenology.

            Surely a statement such as this is just a personal preference. In my reading of the philosophy of science (limited) I have not really seen too much agreement with this. It seems to me in physics that beauty and elegance have often provided more of a motivation for new theories than predictive capability. Ptolemy predicted as well as Copernicus.
            The behavior of a simple double pendulum cannot be predicted. But we accept nonlinear dynamics because it presents a framework for understanding the phenomena even though it cannot be predicted. Cosmology is normally considered to be physics, what are its predictions?

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