Monday, November 8, 2010

Another Take on the Fallacy of Affect

Last class we discussed the difference between a 'scientific theory' and a 'scientific fact'. The class consensus was that in order for something to be considered a scientific fact it must manifest within reality (i.e. be an observable phenomenon). A scientific theory on the other hand is a means for expressing the potential factors and course of action taken in order to produce the phenomenon observed. Scientific fact is a truth, scientific theory is but one possible set of rules designed to express the necessary course of action taken.

I suggested that the fallacy of affect could be imposed onto scientific theory in order to recognize the potential weaknesses therein. When we first considered the fallacy of affect it was defined as: something (a theory or ideology) that is considered irrelevant or untrue if it doesn't work in practice. I suggested that the fallacy of affect could be applied to the relationship between 'scientific theory' and 'scientific fact'. Rather than justifying the illegitimacy of something (a theory or ideology) due to its ineffectiveness in practice, under these circumstances the fallacy of affect would recognize that just because something is effective in practice doesn't justify its inherent 'truth' and rightness. Dr. Ogden used the example of water boiling at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. He suggested that one day water could not boil under the specific conditions we've documented thus far. This example parallels my take on the potential fallibility of scientific theory. Under these circumstances the fallacy of the affect occurs not in the observable phenomenon (the affect), but in the explanation of how the phenomenon has come to be.

Science has created a means by which we can predict the steps taken to produce different phenomenon. The information gathered is particularly convincing because it can often be manipulated by humans and applied in different ways that work in practice. However it is also important to recognize that life is in flux and that we as humans are doing the best we can to understand the dynamic world around us.

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