Popper and his commentators on the discovery of neptune: A close shave for the law of gravitation?

Knowledge of residual perturbations in Uranus's orbit led to Neptune's discovery in 1846 rather than the refutation of Newton's law of gravitation. Karl Popper asserts that this case is untypical of science and that the law was at least prima facie falsified. I argue that these assertions are the product of a false, a priori methodological position, 'Weak Popperian Falsificationism' (WPF), and that on the evidence the law was not, and was not considered, prima facie false. Many of Popper's commentators presuppose WPF and their views on this case and its implications for scientific rationality and method are similarly unwarranted or defective.
Keywords Karl Popper  scientific method  refutation  rationality  discovery of Neptune  law of gravitation  ad hoc hypothesis  auxiliary hypothesis  Imre Lakatos  Thomas Kuhn
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DOI 10.1016/0039-3681(95)00045-3
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Moti Mizrahi (forthcoming). Historical Inductions, Unconceived Alternatives, and Unconceived Objections. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie:1-10.

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