Archive for the ‘Herbert Simon’ Category

Purpose of Science

July 28, 2007

“The purpose of science is not to make predictions, but to explain things — predictions are then tests of whether explanations are correct.”  [Herbert Simon]

“I will use a simple example to illustrate Simon’s point.  One could propose a theory that would explain that the sky is blue by assuming the existence of giants who paint it blue every night while we are sleeping.  Simon would argue that one can’t just test the correctness of the conclusion. Rather, to accept such a theory, one would also have to observe the giants in action.  As the economic philosopher Daniel Hausman has put it, one must “look under the hood” of a theory to see that the causal chain of explanations is valid as well.”  [Origin of Wealth by Eric D. Beinhocker]