David Bourget (Western Ontario)
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Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Philosophy 72 (14):403-426 (1975)
S CIENTISTS often claim that an experiment or observation tests certain hypotheses within a complex theory but not others. Relativity theorists, for example, are unanimous in the judgment that measurements of the gravitational red shift do not test the field equations of general relativity; psychoanalysts sometimes complain that experimental tests of Freudian theory are at best tests of rather peripheral hypotheses; astronomers do not regard observations of the positions of a single planet as a test of Kepler's third law, even though those observations may test Kepler's first and second laws. Observations are regarded as relevant to some hypotheses in a theory but not relevant to others in that same theory. There is another kind of scientific judgment that may or may not be related to such judgments of relevance: determinations of the accuracy of the predictions of some theories are not held to provide tests of those theories, or, at least, positive results are not held to support or confirm the theories in question. There are, for example, special relativistic theories of gravity that predict the same phenomena as does general relativity, yet the theories are regarded as..
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Bas C. Van Fraassen (2009). The Perils of Perrin, in the Hands of Philosophers. Philosophical Studies 143 (1):5 - 24.
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