On falsificationism

In coming to a judgement about the reliability of knowledge, we need to consider whether we are looking to:

1. verify that knowledge — i.e. judge that the knowledge that we want to rely on is either untrue or true — or

2. disaffirm that knowledge — i.e. judge that the knowledge that we want to rely on is either untrue or has not yet been shown to be untrue.

Verificationism takes an optimistic stance. It allows us to make the decision that knowledge is either true or false (and hence, after deciding which it is, whether knowledge can or cannot be relied upon).

By contrast, falsificationism takes a strongly sceptical stance where the only choice is either to reject knowledge as being untrue or (at best) decide to judge all knowledge as being provisional and thereby open to disaffirmation in the future.

Helpful link which needs editing and improving here.


Carnap’s four tests

Carnap’s four tests

Carnap (1950) proposes four  tests to judge the significance of the new explicit knowledge derived through explication.  In summary these tests are:

  1. similarity:
    prima facie it should be obvious that the newly discovered explicit knowledge relates to and arises from the implicit knowledge which prompted the explication;
  2. exactness:
    by evidence and argumentation, it should be possible to relate the newly discovered or explicit knowledge within a “well-connected system of scientific concepts”;
  3. fruitfulness:
    the newly discovered or explicit knowledge should be “fruitful”, capable of offering new knowledge and insights valuable to science and to scientific progress;
  4. simplicity:
    the newly discovered or explicit knowledge should as simple as possible in support of the previous three tests.

Assuming the newly discovered knowledge passes all of these four tests, then it is possible to argue that the new knowledge has face validity and, subject to disaffirmation, a chance to be regarded as a significant contribution to knowledge.


Carnap, R. (1950). Logical foundations of probability, University of Chicago Press, Illinois.

The primacy of experience

The only experience is the experience itself

When dealing with the explication process – the explication of one’s implicit knowledge – explicators are caused to reflect on their prior knowledge and experience. In reflecting on their prior knowledge and experience, explicators embark on an iterative process where the memories of their past are surfaced, tested and refreshed in the light of (a) current insights about their past and (b) ambitions and prospects about their future. All of this is a highly iterative interpretative process: new explicit knowledge emerges each time one revisits the archives and artefacts of one’s past, whether they’re people, documents, gifts or photographs: i.e. whatever happens to help the explicator to echo or picture the past.

When dealing with the past, the explicator is dealing with memories of past experiences. However vivid these memories are, however, these memories are NOT the actual experience itself. And in that context I find it helpful to utter an apparently self-evident truth: “the only experience is the experience itself”.

If “the only experience is the experience itself”, it seems to me that whether we are dealing with scholarship, where new knowledge emerges from the readings of others’ work, or research, which derives from inductive or deductive methods, we’re forced to admit that our understandings and our new knowledge come from a sort of synthesis of ongoing and prior work which has face validity grounded in disaffirmation (i.e. so far such and such an idea or explanation or theory hasn’t been shown to be inappropriate or wrong).

But this is still a derivative outcome. Similarly, the outcomes of scholarship and research are a sort of fictionalisation; a fictionalisation where we deal with proxies for the real thing. And if all this is too elaborate and remote for you, just think about the idea of competitive advantage and compare how it’s characterised in the business literature versus how it feels when one’s battling tooth and nail to make or sustain an impact on one’s market, or beat a competitor, or deter an entrant.

If the “only experience is the experience” itself, any expressions of that experience will never match up to the experience itself. Whether expressed in words or pictures or music, or in mathematical equations, all expressions and representations of the prior experience can never do justice to the experience itself. At best these expressions are understatements… and/or proxies… which the creative mind invents and manipulates. And then inevitably and ironically all of these expressions are open to mis-readings and misunderstandings by the reader. Hence it’s possible to deduce that in explication, as with the arts and humanities generally, “the text is never settled”.