How about bust? Factoring explanatory power back into theory evaluation

Philosophy of Science 64 (2):306-316 (1997)
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Abstract

1. Introduction. The papers by Hellman and Mayo offer up a rich menu of problems and proposed solutions, so there is much here for a friendly critic to fasten on. In order to bring a modicum of focus to my commentary, I shall limit my remarks to the Duhem problem and its radiations in epistemology and methodology. Both Mayo and Hellman claim to have solutions to that hoary old problem and they tout these solutions as key indicators of the explanatory power of their respective technical epistemologies, whether Bayesian or Neyman/Pearsonian. Like Mayo, I shall be arguing that the Bayesian treatment of Duhem's problem is no solution at all; that, indeed, it fails to grapple with the core challenges posed by the purported ambiguities of falsification. My response to Mayo's more detailed, and I think more right-headed, treatment of the Duhem problem will be more complex. While I believe that she is moving in the right direction in many respects, I think that she fails to see one key dimension of the Duhemian conundrum. Indeed, she risks solving not Duhem's problem but quite a different one. I shall gently try to encourage her to steer her way back towards the central task.

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Larry Laudan
University of Texas at Austin

Citations of this work

Challenges to Bayesian Confirmation Theory.John D. Norton - 2011 - In Prasanta S. Bandyopadhyay & Malcolm R. Forster (eds.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 7: Philosophy of Statistics. Elsevier B.V.. pp. 391-440.
Praxis relevance in science.Sven Ove Hansson - 2006 - Foundations of Science 12 (2):139-154.
Error statistics and Duhem's problem.Gregory R. Wheeler - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (3):410-420.

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