By Pierre Duhem (auth.), Sandra G. Harding (eds.)
According to a view assumed by way of many scientists and philosophers of technological know-how and standardly present in technological know-how textbooks, it's managed ex perience which supplies the foundation for distinguishing among applicable and unacceptable theories in technological know-how: applicable theories are these which may move empirical checks. It has usually been concept definite kind of attempt is especially major: 'crucial experiments' offer helping empiri cal proof for one idea whereas delivering conclusive facts opposed to one other. notwithstanding, in 1906 Pierre Duhem argued that the falsification of a conception is unavoidably ambiguous and hence that there aren't any an important experiments; you possibly can by no means make sure that it's a given concept instead of auxiliary or heritage hypotheses which scan has falsified. w. V. Quine has concurred during this judgment, arguing that "our statements in regards to the exterior global face the tribunal of experience event now not indi vidually yet merely as a company body". a few philosophers have idea that the Duhem-Quine thesis gra tuitously increases perplexities. Others see it as doubly major; those philosophers imagine that it offers a base for feedback of the foundational view of data which has ruled a lot of western notion considering that Descartes, and so they imagine that it opens the door to a brand new and fruitful option to conceive of clinical growth particularly and of the character and progress of information in general.
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Extra resources for Can Theories be Refuted?: Essays on the Duhem-Quine Thesis
The principle of universal gravitation was found, and it was obtained, without any use having been made of any fictive hypothesis, by the inductive method the plan of which Newton outlined. Let us again examine this application of the Newtonian method, this time more closely; let us see if a somewhat strict logical analysis will leave intact the appearance of rigor and simplicity that this very summary exposition attributes to it. In order to assure this discussion of all the clarity it needs, let us begin by recalling the following principle, familiar to all those who deal with mechanics: We cannot speak of the force which attracts a body in given circumstances before we have designated the supposedly fixed term of reference to which we relate the motion of all bodies; when we change this point of reference or term of comparison, the force representing the effect produced on the observed body by the other bodies surrounding it changes in direction and magnitude according to the rules stated by mechanics with precision.
But in fundamental experiments, such as we have here, it is not enough to indicate the general meaning of an experiment, to describe the instruments used in performing it, and to tell in a general way that it has yielded the result expected; it is indispensable to go into the details of the experiment itself, to say how often it has been repeated, how the conditions were modified, and what the effect of these modifications has been; in a word, to compose a sort of brief of all the circumstances permitting the reader to sit in judgment on the degree of reliability and certainty of the result.
In order to pass from the experimental law noted to the law stated we play on the word interior. Mraid to base electrostatics on a postulate, we base it on a pun. If we simply turn the pages of the treatises and manuals of physics we can collect any number of fictitious experiments; we should find there abundant illustrations of the various forms that such an experiment can assume, from the merely unperformed experiment to the absurd experiment. Let us not waste time on such a fastidious task. What we have said suffices to warrant the following conclusion: The teaching of physics by the purely inductive method such as Newton defined it is a chimera.