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Chad Ruprecht
Worked at Texas Christian Univeristy
Attends Texas Christian University
Lives in Fort Worth, TX
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Chad Ruprecht

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Empirical validation is always a hard subject to introduce students to. I like to always frame the discussion by discussing the  arguments the two dons of philosophy of science, Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper had half a century ago.  I think your position echoes tenets of both of Kuhn and Popper. 

Kuhn would agree with the majority of your last paragraph, Science is all about framing, we adopt paradigms that seem to work well, and bitterly defend them until a "Scientific Revolution" forces us to jump off a sinking ship. In social science, the problem is that its hard to tell if the ship is sinking. A great example in Psychology was this horrific period we had in the 90s where witness testimonies featured victims retelling horrific tales of childhood abuse to their "cognitive therapist", who had helped them unearth their "buried memories". We did not know that "false memories" could be so easily implanted by therapists, and lot of terrible court outcomes came from this before the ship was finally abandoned. 

Popper hated Kuhn's perspective. Rather, he contended, science is driven by solving real problems, not defending our perspectives until they collapse. His single most important contribution was the concept of falsifiability. The best theories are falsifiable, they can fail. The easier your theory can fail; the better. My favorite example was Einstein's theory of relativity: he made a prediction at some point about a certain visual aspect of an upcoming eclipse that would only be true, if relativity was correct, meaning, it was extremely easy for him to be wrong, the predicted eclipse just had to look a bit off. He was right. A great theory. Frued's theory, like you mentioned, is one of the worst. It fits like a glove, matching any dream to some sort of inner trait. It is not in any way falsifiable, and therefore, an awful theory. Evolution is another great example, thousands of times, it has had the chance to be falsified, to be just darn wrong, and remarkably, it survives. 

Personally, I don't think either perspective is at odds. Kuhn calls it like he sees it, and as far as politics are concerned, science is very cliquish, people who tend to agree, hang around each other until their whole theory falls apart (this issue becomes obviously detrimental when you imagine entire departments hiring those like-minded faculty, or are set with the task of reviewing a grant etc.). And like Popper, I think they really are problems in science, worth solving. Consciousness is a great problem that isn't very falsifiable, but still worth solving. We don't have a clue how it works, but its a legitimate problem, and it shouldn't be abandoned. 

Cheers. 

-Chad
Exact sciences come with the benefit of pure empirical validation. We test, we measure, we assess, and our theories live or die by what we observe. This kind of purity, rooted in the concept of duality or difference, ensures ...
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No prob. I'll try to weigh in more often. Grad school eats up so much of your time!
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Chad Ruprecht

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Ryan, I agree with almost everything you said regarding animals, although, as a student of exp. psychology, and comparative neuroscience, I'd have to remark that some barriers between what we suppose as uniquely human characteristics are beginning to blur; I leave two links, one from a popular article you might have read about, and a second high impact article my advisor, Ken Leising, published a couple years ago:
Note, I am very critical of both these articles, and plenty of people in the field absolutely despise the causal reasoning paper, the results are interesting none the less:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-new-model-of-empathy-the-rat/2011/12/08/gIQAAx0jfO_story.html

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/311/5763/1020.full
Ripped from the pages of the Google+ Philosophy community, Parthasarathy Murugesan asks whether animals are wiser than humans when it comes to protecting nature. Murugesan answers in the affirmative, but he may not realize...
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Thanks for the links, Chad! Fascinating stuff, and a great contribution to the topic!
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In his circles
9 people
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Occupation
Research Assistant; University Setting
Employment
  • Texas Christian Univeristy
    Graduate Student
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Currently
Fort Worth, TX
Previously
Houston, TX - Red Oak, TX
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I study the associative properties of temporal and spatial cognition in both animals and humans.
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I survived the hottest summer (2011) in Texas' recorded history (record keeping began in the 1880s)
Education
  • Texas Christian University
    2010 - present
  • Sam Houston State University
    Psychology (Biology), 2006 - 2010
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