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    #1

    Working Theory

    I came across a posting titled "Working Theory" on this site while trying to figure out myself what exactly the term ment. I found that the person had had a similer but different interpretation of the word than myself. He asked wether the term could mean a theory that one is working on, or wether it means that a theory works. I was wondering if it could mean: weather or not it is logical or acurate, the theory is being operated under. fI hope that you can clarify.

    Thanks
    -Micah

  1. Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Working Theory

    NOT A TEACHER

    I have always understood by the term "working theory" a theory that has not yet been "proven" (you cannot prove a theory, therefore proven is in quotation marks) and one that is subject to change. It is however good enough to be used when you start working on something.

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    #3

    Re: Working Theory

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    NOT A TEACHER

    I have always understood by the term "working theory" a theory that has not yet been "proven" (you cannot prove a theory, therefore proven is in quotation marks) and one that is subject to change. It is however good enough to be used when you start working on something.
    So you're saying that since a theory cannot be proven, we'll never know if light is the fastest thing there is (Einstein's special relativity theory)?
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

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    #4

    Re: Working Theory

    Quote Originally Posted by CarloSsS View Post
    So you're saying that since a theory cannot be proven, we'll never know if light is the fastest thing there is (Einstein's special relativity theory)?
    A theory can only be falsified, not proven. This is because experimental sciences work by the means of induction. Induction cannot provide certainties.
    The more falsifications a theory withstands, the more likely it is that theory is true, but there is never a 100% certainty. This the prevailing view in experimental sciences, which was established by Karl Popper (see falsificationism). There are other views, such as those by the proponents of logical positivism, who argue that a hypothesis should be verified. But as Karl Popper pointed out, verification can lead to the fallacy of the consequent, which is why verification is only used under special circumstances.
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 07-Jul-2012 at 19:06. Reason: added some more info

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    #5

    Re: Working Theory

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    A theory can only be falsified, not proven. This is because experimental sciences work by the means of induction. Induction cannot provide certainties.
    The more falsifications a theory withstands, the more likely it is that theory is true, but there is never a 100% certainty. This the prevailing view in experimental sciences, which was established by Karl Popper (see falsificationism). There are other views, such as those by the proponents of logical positivism, who argue that a hypothesis should be verified. But as Karl Popper pointed out, verification can lead to the fallacy of the consequent, which is why verification is only used under special circumstances.
    So we'll never know if light is the fastest thing there is, right?
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

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    #6

    Re: Working Theory

    I'm pretty ignorant of theoretical physics, so I can't answer this question. My background is in experimental sciences. Theoretical physics are grounded in mathematics and mathematics is not depended on experiments. But I will say that what I wrote also applies to (experimental) physics.

    An excellent text on this subject matter is What is this thing called Science? by A. Chalmers. In this text he deals with examples from physics.

    Edit: but to go out on a limb, yes, we'll probably never know if light is the fast thing out there. Unfortunately, there are very few, if any certainties in science.

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    #7

    Re: Working Theory

    A "working theory" is one that is still a work in progress. The thinker has a theory in mind, but it has not hardened into a final state. It is still open to modification by the discovery of new events.

    Police may use this when investigating a crime. They may have a theory about who did the crime and how, and they will investigate following this theory until they have solved the crime or until events and discoveries cause them to alter their theory.

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    #8

    Re: Working Theory

    Quote Originally Posted by CarloSsS View Post
    So we'll never know if light is the fastest thing there is, right?
    Now that I think of it, the speed of light is not merely a theoretical concept. In fact, the speed of light has been established by experimental means. So yes, we will never know if light is the fastest thing there is, just like we will never be able to prove the theory of gravity.

    Some time ago there were reports that neutrinos were faster than light. So that was an attempt to falsify the theory that nothing is faster than the speed of light. However, upon replications of the experiment, it was found that neutrinos travel at the same speed as light, so therefore the previous theory still stands (see BBC News - Neutrino 'faster than light' scientist resigns ).

    So yes, unfortunately, contrary to what many people think, science cannot provide certainties.

    I know that this is offtopic, but I felt that I had to share this.
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 07-Jul-2012 at 19:34. Reason: error

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