Download Can Theories be Refuted?: Essays on the Duhem-Quine Thesis by Pierre Duhem (auth.), Sandra G. Harding (eds.) PDF

By Pierre Duhem (auth.), Sandra G. Harding (eds.)

According to a view assumed via many scientists and philosophers of technological know-how and standardly present in technology textbooks, it really is managed ex­ perience which gives the foundation for distinguishing among appropriate and unacceptable theories in technological know-how: applicable theories are these that could go empirical exams. It has frequently been concept convinced type of attempt is very major: 'crucial experiments' supply assisting empiri­ cal proof for one thought whereas offering conclusive facts opposed to one other. notwithstanding, in 1906 Pierre Duhem argued that the falsification of a thought is unavoidably ambiguous and for that reason that there aren't any the most important experiments; you'll be able to by no means make sure it's a given thought instead of auxiliary or historical past hypotheses which scan has falsified. w. V. Quine has concurred during this judgment, arguing that "our statements in regards to the exterior global face the tribunal of experience event now not indi­ vidually yet simply as a company body". a few philosophers have idea that the Duhem-Quine thesis gra­ tuitously increases perplexities. Others see it as doubly major; those philosophers imagine that it presents a base for feedback of the foundational view of information which has ruled a lot of western inspiration for the reason that Descartes, they usually imagine that it opens the door to a brand new and fruitful approach to conceive of medical development specifically and of the character and progress of data in general.

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5 Experiments with so little precision leave the physicist with the problem of choosing between an infinity of equally possible symbolic translations, and confer no certainty on a choice they do not impose; only intuition, guessing the form of theory to be established, directs this choice. This role of intuition is particularly important in the work of Ampere; it suffices to run through the writings of this great geometer in order to recognize that his fundamental formula of electrodynamics was found quite completely by a sort of divination, that his experiments were thought up by him as afterthoughts and quite purposefully combined so that he might be able to expound according to the Newtonian method a theory that he had constructed by a series of postulates.

Such, in very precise form, are the propositions which Kepler's laws of planetary motion and the extension of these laws to the motions of satellites authorize us to formulate. For these propositions Newton substituted another which may be stated as follows: Any two celestial bodies whatsoever exert on each other a force of attraction in the direction of the straight line joining them, a force proportional to the product of their masses and to the inverse square of the distance between them. This statement presupposes all motions and forces to be related to the same reference point; the latter is an ideal standard of reference which may well be conceived by the geometer but which does not characterize in an exact and concrete manner the position in the sky of any body.

These are the lines with which Ampere began the exposition of his Theorie mathematique; he continued in the following terms: "Newton was far from thinking" that the law of universal weight could be discovered by starting from more or less plausible abstract considerations. He established the fact that it had to be deduced from observed facts, or rather from those empirical laws which, like those of Kepler, are but results generalized from a great number of facts. , the formula representing them - that is the course Newton followed.

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