The Unresolved Bridge Problem

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Philosopher Karl Popper, an inductive skeptic, is criticized by his objection to confirmation. Rather than using the term confirmation to describe a theory that has continued to be proven correctly, Popper created his own term. Popper says that corroboration is a term used to describe theories that have been tested and not yet falsified. According to Peter Godfrey-Smith (G-S), “Popper can say why we should prefer to use a theory that has not been falsified over a theory that has been falsified” (Smith 68). The problem with Popper lies when he is presented with two theories, neither of which has been falsified. This is when Popper has difficulty choosing one theory over another. This situation can be better understood by looking at the bridge problem. I will argue that Popper is unable to solve the bridge problem using corroboration because the term is synonymous with confirmation. There are two theories (T1: Theory One) and (T2: Theory Two) that have different implications for how to build a bridge. These two theories are similar because they both have not been falsified however they differ because one has been tested and the other has not. The theories are stated explicitly below. T1: Theory that has been tested many times and has never been falsified T2: Theory that has never been tested and has never been falsified Next we can formally reconstruct the argument in modus ponens form as follows: (P1) If T1 is corroborated, then T1 is rational (P2) T1 is corroborated (C) T1 is rational Before I say what is wrong with the argument, I want to explain the bridge objection. In “Theory and Reality,” G-S presents the bridge problem, which is a response to Popper made by inductivist’s. I chose to explain this... ... middle of paper ... ...t his term corroboration is synonymous to confirmation. In conclusion, I have argued that Popper is unable to solve the volleyball problem using corroboration because the term is synonymous with corroboration and Popper denies confirmation. Granted, there must be more to what Popper thinks of corroboration, we have no reason from the readings to see why the two terms corroboration and confirmation differ. Until Popper says more about corroboration we are entitled to treat the term as equivalent in meaning to confirmation Work Cited Blackmon, James. “Lecture #13: “Confirmation.” Philosophy 30. UC DAVIS. Davis, 5 Nov 2013. Blackmon, James. “Lecture #17: “Popper’s Bridge.” Philosophy 30. UC DAVIS. Davis, 26 Nov 2013. Godfrey-Smith, Peter. Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2003. Print.
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