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Karl Popper’s organon and the world’s fisheries: fish stock assessment as a pseudoscience, an inductivism that can bear no fruit
Corkett, Christopher J.
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Recent long term historical studies of commercial fisheries have pointed to a well established pattern of overfishing. Under the principle of transference – what is true in logic is true in psychology and scientific method – it can be demonstrated that many of the difficulties experienced in establishing sustainable fish stocks can be traced to a naïve attempt to reduce management decisions to facts or data; a monism or ‘scientific ethics’ in which modeled predictions derived from data mimic predictions in the physical sciences derived from dual premises (presented as a clerihew above). By applying Karl Popper’s Organon to the world wide problem of how to maintain sustainable stocks of fish I show that, just as a civil society is built upon rules of law, a rational decision making in the form of managing a fishery, has to be built upon rules of method. The demarcation criterion – the chief procedural rule of Karl Popper’s falsifiability calculus – forms the chief methodological rule of a rational based science; the application of this rule to the commercial fisheries demonstrates it is the irrational nature of the naïve empirical advice being proffered, and not the political decision-making, that ultimately has to be held responsible for the unhealthy state of the world’s fish stocks – it is the inductive methods deployed by fish stock assessment, not the politics, that needs the drastic overhaul. Keywords: Induction, Karl Popper, stock assessment, fisheries management