Inferences from phenomena in gravitational physics

Philosophy of Science 63 (3):54 (1996)
Newton's methodology emphasized propositions "inferred from phenomena." These rest on systematic dependencies that make phenomena measure theoretical parameters. We consider the inferences supporting Newton's inductive argument that gravitation is proportional to inertial mass. We argue that the support provided by these systematic dependencies is much stronger than that provided by bootstrap confirmation; this kind of support thus avoids some of the major objections against bootstrapping. Finally we examine how contemporary testing of equivalence principles exemplifies this Newtonian methodological theme
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