Authors
Greg Bamford
University of Queensland
Abstract
Knowledge of residual perturbations in the orbit of Uranus in the early 1840s did not lead to the refutation of Newton's law of gravitation but instead to the discovery of Neptune in 1846. Karl Popper asserts that this case is atypical of science and that the law of gravitation was at least prima facie falsified by these perturbations. I argue that these assertions are the product of a false, a priori methodological position I call, 'Weak Popperian Falsificationism'. Further, on the evidence the law was not prima facie false and was not generally considered so by astronomers at the time. Many of Popper's commentators presuppose WPF and their views on this case and its implications for scientific rationality and method suffer from this same defect.
Keywords Karl Popper  Neptune  Uranus  falsification  ad hoc hypothesis  auxiliary hypothesis  Imre Lakatos  Alan Musgrave  Alan Chalmers  residual perturbations
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DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0039-3681(95)00045-3
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References found in this work BETA

Bayesian Personalism, the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes, and Duhem's Problem.Jon Dorling - 1979 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 10 (3):177.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.Karl R. Popper - 1959 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 40 (3):471-472.

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Citations of this work BETA

Historical Inductions, Unconceived Alternatives, and Unconceived Objections.Moti Mizrahi - 2016 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 47 (1):59-68.
A Coherentist Conception of Ad Hoc Hypotheses.Samuel Schindler - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 67:54-64.

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