Strategies to improve the reliability of a theory: The experiment of bacterial invasion into cultured epithelial cells
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 34 (4):593-614 (2003)
An analysis is presented of published methods that have been used by experimenters to justify the reliability of the theory of invasion of microorganisms into cultured cells. The results show that, to demonstrate this invasion, many experimenters used two or more methods that were based on independent technical and theoretical principles, and by doing so improved the reliability of the theory. Subsequently I compare this strategy of 'multiple derivability' with other strategies, discussed in the literature in relation to the mesosome, a bacterial organelle that had been detected with the electron microsope, but which appeared later to be an artifact. I propose that different strategies have been applied in this problem, and multiple derivability may have been the decisive one. Finally I discuss the idea that multiple derivability may help to anchor theories in a larger network of theories.
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