Farewell to certitude: Einstein's novelty on induction and deduction, fallibilism

Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 31 (1):19-37 (2000)
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In the late 19th century great changes in theories of light and electricity were in direct conflict with certitude, the view that scientific knowledge is infallible. What is, then, the epistemic status of scientific theory? To resolve this issue Duhem and Poincaré proposed images of fallible knowledge, Instrumentalism and Conventionalism, respectively. Only in 1919–1922, after Einstein's relativity was published, he offered arguments to support Fallibilism, the view that certainty cannot be achieved in science. Though Einstein did not consider Duhem's Instrumentalism, he argued against Poincaré's Conventionalism. Hitherto, Einstein's Fallibilism, as presented at first in a rarely known essay of 1919, was left in the dark. Recently, Howard obscured its meaning. Einstein's essay was never translated into English. In my paper I provide its translation and attempt to shed light on Einstein's view and its context; I also direct attention to Einstein's images of philosophical opportunism in scientific practice



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