Contextual falsification and scientific methodology

Philosophy of Science 39 (4):476-490 (1972)
Recent discussion of the problem of the conclusive falsification of scientific hypotheses has generally regarded the Duhemian Thesis (D-Thesis) as both true and interesting [10] but has dismissed the claim that disconfirmed hypotheses can be retained in explanations of the disconfirming evidence as either trivial [3] or unargued [12]. This paper rejects these positions. First, the status, in the argument for the D-Thesis, of the claim that auxiliary assumptions are necessary for the derivation of evidential propositions from hypotheses is examined. It is concluded that depending on this status, the D-Thesis is either trivially true or unargued. Then the retention of contextually disconfirmed hypotheses is discussed. It is found that the use of such hypotheses in explanations of the disconfirming evidence is mediated by principles of scientific methodology. A new thesis is presented connecting the problem of conclusive falsification with changes in methodology. The argument for this thesis introduces a new analysis of methodological principles as inductive generalizations from scientific practice. Finally, the contribution of this analysis to the understanding of scientific change is described
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DOI 10.1086/288469
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