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The Demarcation Problem: Conflict Between What to Teach And What Not To Teach

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  1. Introduction
  2. Logical positivists
  3. The logical positivists: Finding a set of rules to determine what was meaningful and what was not
  4. Conclusion
  5. Works cited

In late 2005 a federal judge barred a Pennsylvania public school from teaching ?intelligent design? in its biology classes. The trial had taken six weeks and resulted in a resounding win for those who support the teaching of evolution in the classroom. The ruling was a tipping point for many in that debate between evolution and its possible alternatives, a debate that has been raging since before the 1925 Skopes Monkey Trial. Many see this debate as an encapsulation of a battle of cultural values and one that is a key sign of the direction of society as a whole. Indeed, very rarely do tempers flare higher than when questions come up regarding what to teach a nation's children.

[...] For example, electrons are not observable by humans; they are, however, observable by instrumentation, which in turn is observable by humans. The logical positivists held the view that there existed mathematical and logical rules that served to translate the theoretical, i.e. electrons, into the observable. This brought them to the troubling conclusion, however, that electrons are not, in fact, particles that make electron meters read out results, but are rather simple an economical rule to speak about many electron meter readings. [...]


[...] This ?scientific confirmation? was exactly what Popper rejected, because it allowed such an unsound practice as infinite justifications from finite observations.[12] Popper realized that something had to fill in the void left by the problem of induction, and his quest led him through pessimistic meta-induction. This states that, because all rejected (i.e. past) theories have been false, it should be assumed that our current and future theories will be false as well. This led to fallibalism, that science should never be definitively convinced of the truth of any theory. [...]

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