Empirical testing

Inquiry 38 (4):353 – 399 (1995)
Abstract
Three major views of the observation?theory relation are now extant: (1) Observation and theory are mutually independent and observation provides the basis for evaluating theories. (2) Observations are theory?dependent and do not provide objective grounds for evaluating theories. (3) The concept of observation should be extended in a way that includes many so?called ?theoretical?entities? among the observables. Analyses of these views set the stage for a new approach that incorporates lessons learned from discussions of earlier accounts. The central idea of this new approach is that empirical testing requires comparison of results arrived at by derivation from the theory being tested (plus appropriate auxiliary premises) with results derived from an interaction with aspects of nature in the theory's domain. These routes are independent in that each can be pursued without knowledge of the details or results of the alternative route. The approach accounts for the role of empirical results in evaluating theories without requiring that these results be theory?free or more certain than theoretical results. It also provides a basis for understanding the conditions under which a conflict between observation and theory can result in rejection of the observational result
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    Harold I. Brown (2005). Incommensurability Reconsidered. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (1):149-169.
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