The scope, limits, and distinctiveness of the method of 'deduction from the phenomena': Some lessons from Newton's 'demonstrations' in optics
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (1):45-80 (2000)
Having been neglected or maligned for most of this century, Newton's method of 'deduction from the phenomena' has recently attracted renewed attention and support. John Norton, for example, has argued that this method has been applied with notable success in a variety of cases in the history of physics and that this explains why the massive underdetermination of theory by evidence, seemingly entailed by hypothetico-deductive methods, is invisible to working physicists. This paper, through a detailed analysis of Newton's deduction of one particular 'proposition' in optics 'from the phenomena', gives a clearer account than hitherto of the method - highlighting the fact that it is really one of deduction from the phenomena plus 'background knowledge'. It argues, that, although the method has certain heuristic virtues, examination of its putative accreditational strengths reveals a range of important problems that its defenders have yet adequately to address.
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Citations of this work BETA
P. Kyle Stanford (2009). Scientific Realism, the Atomic Theory, and the Catch-All Hypothesis: Can We Test Fundamental Theories Against All Serious Alternatives? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2):253-269.
John Worrall (2011). Underdetermination, Realism and Empirical Equivalence. Synthese 180 (2):157 - 172.
Dean Peters (2014). What Elements of Successful Scientific Theories Are the Correct Targets for “Selective” Scientific Realism? Philosophy of Science 81 (3):377-397.
John Worrall (2010). For Universal Rules, Against Induction. Philosophy of Science 77 (5):740-753.
P. D. Magnus (2008). Demonstrative Induction and the Skeleton of Inference. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 22 (3):303 – 315.
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