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(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)
There are domains of experience of the physical world that are not susceptible to direct experimentation.
- Such are all descriptions of the past or of the future, and in particular of the history & future of the universe as a whole, which is the subject of cosmology. However, because of the finite speed of light, all of our observation of the universe is of past events and all observation of deep space is effectively the archaeology of the remote past of the universe.
- Another example of a domain of science not susceptible to direct experimentation is the study of the development of living beings, of which the Darwinian Theory of Evolution is an attempted explanation.
- Strictly speaking, the theories in such areas have the status of hypotheses only, since they cannot be directly confirmed or refuted by experiment. However, such hypotheses are genuinely scientific because they have consequences that may be confirmed or refuted by experiment.
- We must be on our guard against hypotheses that can accommodate themselves to any new experience. A hypothesis that will not allow itself to be refuted by any experience is simply metaphysical. Examples of such theories (suggested by Popper) are Marxism and Freudian psychoanalysis.
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