"Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible..." —Jacob Bronowski
What is knowledge and what is the process by which it is obtained? These two question are among the most central in the philosophical subject called epistemology, also know as the philosophy of science. And perhaps the most flawed attempt at an answer to the aforementioned questions is inductivism.
Inductivists hold that the truth is justified true belief. Through so-called inductive logic, a finite set of observations can be generalised to a universal theory. In this sense, observations justify one's believe in a theory, and the more one observes a certain phenomena, the more justified said theory becomes.
However, this is not, nor can it be, how science operates. The elusive 'inductive logic' is completely absent. There is, for example, no reason why we should expect the sun to rise tomorrow simply because we have seen it do so (many times) before. And even if we were to explain why 'inductive logic' can be applied, we would then have to explain why that reason applies as well. Thus we are confronted with an infinite regression.
In fact, all theories which claim that knowledge concerns justified true belief have this vital flaw. For why should we ever accept the justification? Does the justification not also require a further justification?
Instead, critical rationalist claim that science is about creating good explanations, where an explanation is a statement about what is out there, how it behaves, and why. Furthermore, explanations are conjectures, which are not supported by anything. All that we require is that those conjectures explain the world around us.
Thus, critical rationalist declare that truth is not justifiable, i.e., certainty is not obtainable. And consequently, people are necessarily fallible, and capable of making errors in all of their endeavours.
This blog is dedicated to the implications which can be drawn from critical rationalism, specifically within the discipline of physics.
A brief and narrow description of myself is as follows. I am a physicist student; my area of research concerns condensed matter theory, specifically topological insulators and periodically driven systems.