The confirmation of quantitative laws

Philosophy of Science 52 (1):1-22 (1985)
Quantitative laws are more typical of science than are generalizations involving observational predicates, yet much discussion of scientific inference takes the confirmation of a universal generalization by its instances to be typical and paradigmatic. The important difference is that measurement necessarily involves error. It is argued that because of error laws can no more be refuted by observation than they can be verified by observation. Without much background knowledge, tests of a law mainly provide evidence for the distribution of errors of measurement of the quantities involved. With more background knowledge, the data may contribute either to our knowledge of the error distributions, or to the grounds we have for accepting or rejecting the law. With enough background knowledge, data may verify as well as refute laws
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DOI 10.1086/289219
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