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# Objects And Observation

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I would like to start a discussion of this question:

Can the existence of objects be explained by observation ?

==

Yes, no, maybe ?

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Okay.

1) something exists because we can observe it

or

2) we can explain something just by observing it

?

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More along the lines of the second, since it uses all of the required terms. I realize there are many different answers depending on how terms are defined.

Let us start with these two statements--which, if either, is a true statement ?

1. We can explain something with observation

2. We can explain something without observation

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More along the lines of the second, since it uses all of the required terms. I realize there are many different answers depending on how terms are defined.

Let us start with these two statements--which, if either, is a true statement ?

1. We can explain something with observation

2. We can explain something without observation

As stated, neither.

How about trying "We can start to explain something with observations and measurements".

The real problems lies in the definition of Explain.

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As stated, neither.....The real problems lies in the definition of Explain.
OK, this is a very interesting response. If we may, before we move to change wording, I would like to stay with your conclusion that neither to the two statements are logically true:

1. We can explain something with observation

2. We can explain something without observation

==

If both of the above are false statements, then what is the relationship between explanation and observation ? Or, do I not understand what you are saying when you say..."As stated, neither" ?

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OK, this is a very interesting response. If we may, before we move to change wording, I would like to stay with your conclusion that neither to the two statements are logically true:

1. We can explain something with observation

2. We can explain something without observation

==

If both of the above are false statements, then what is the relationship between explanation and observation ? Or, do I not understand what you are saying when you say..."As stated, neither" ?

In my view Science consists of phases (sometimes called goals) - Description, Prediction, and Control. It's based on an assumption that cause and effect are valid possibilities in the universe. In the simplest mathematical terms cause and effect are functional relationships between two classes of variables, Independent Variables which can "freely" vary and Dependent Variables whose changes are contingent or constrained in some way on or by changes of the Independent Variable. Without the elegant fonts that mathematicians use here it looks something like this: DV = fIV. In words, the Dependent Variable equals some function of the Independent Variable. Obviously that is impossible to state without some measurement of the two variables.

The logical outcome of such observations is to set the conditions for predictions. Such predictions are variously called theories or hypotheses. I prefer to distinguish between them to the extent that the theory is the specific functional relationship, and the hypothesis is a logically derived prediction that can be tested.

Control is defined by the outcome of the test of the hypothesis. The goal is perfect "control" under all possible values of the Independent Variable. Obviously this goal can never be achieved because there are an infinite number of values that the Independent Variable can assume and only a finite number of values that can be tested. And all of this is complicated by the possibility of an indeterminate number of possible IVs having independent or interactive functional relationships with the DV.

We deal with the enormity of the problem by making educated guesses about pertinent and non-pertinent IVs and attempting to either reduce/eliminate additional IVs or to hold them constant across levels of the IV that we are interested in.

Given this point of view, I think it's obvious that observation, no matter how detailed and accurate, is only the first step towards developing a falsifiable (testable) theory. And the theory is only a step towards reducing uncertainty, which of course can never be achieved.

I would define explanation as being approached when control can be demonstrated in every attempt at control. In that sense neither observation or non-observation by themselves can never get us to reduced uncertainty, though observation at least can get us started on the path.

That may not be helpful in anwering your initial question but it hopefully "explains" my answer. B)

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which, if either, is a true statement ?

1. We can explain something with observation

2. We can explain something without observation

Neither.

What we do is to attempt to explain what we observe. What this means is that we look for models whose logical consequences fit in with our observation. We compare how well different models fit and we might even find totally different models that fit equally well. When we find that some model fits a great wealth of observation very well and we could hardly conceive of another model fitting so well we begin to regard it as something real, or at least that there is "something real about" it. At that point we treat it as something observed and go looking for explanations of it.....

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]OK, thanks for the comments..but I have a question. You said ".....

At that point we treat it as something observed and go looking for explanations of it....
What do you mean by "it" ? Is the it the model, or the something that you use to form the model ?

So, to put into a truth statement your position, you would hold as true the following statement, correct ? :

We can explain what we observe as object.

We can explain what we cannot observe as object

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What do you mean by "it" ?
The model, of course. The more we find it fits with all observation, the more we treat it as something observed.

For instance atoms, during the course of the 20th century, went from being a model that few physicists were willing to consider as an actually existing object to something we now take for granted and manipulate like lego blocks.

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