Independent testability: The Michelson-Morley and Kennedy-Thorndike experiments

Philosophy of Science 47 (1):1-37 (1980)

Authors
Ronald Laymon
Ohio State University
Abstract
Grunbaum has argued that the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction hypothesis is not ad hoc since the Kennedy-Thorndike experiment can be used to provide a test that is significantly different from that provided by the Michelson-Morley experiment. In the first part of the paper, I show that the differences claimed by Grunbaum to hold between these two experiments are not sufficient for establishing independent testability. A dilemma is developed: either the Kennedy-Thorndike experiment, because of experimental realities, cannot test the uncontracted Fresnel aether theory, or if experimental difficulties are ignored, the Kennedy-Thorndike experiment degenerates into a version of the Michelson-Morley experiment. The second part of the paper is a feasibility study of the prospects for defining experimental types according to aims of measurement and determination. This approach is applied to the contraction hypothesis, where it is suggested that the usual analysis of independent testability be modified
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DOI 10.1086/288907
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