On the conclusive falsification of scientific hypotheses

Philosophy of Science 36 (4):363-374 (1969)
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Adolf Grünbaum has introduced into the literature [4], and several times revised and restated [5] [6], a description of a putative crucial experiment. The outcome of this experiment is supposed to be the conclusive falsification of an hypothesis to the effect that the geometry of a certain region of space, or of a certain surface, is Euclidean. Hereafter, in this paper, I shall refer to this example experiment, in any and all of the different versions of it that Grünbaum has articulated, along with the argumentation with which he has supplemented it, as "Grünbaum's Falsification Example." I will be concerned with all versions of the experiment itself, but only with the most recent supplementary argumentation that Grünbaum has offered, since the ways in which this differs from earlier arguments reflect a taking into account, on Grünbaum's part, of points critics have raised and flaws that they have purported to find in some of those earlier arguments [7-11]. There are three separate important theses against which one or another version of Grünbaum's Falsification Example may be taken to have been directed. Each of these Grünbaum has either explicitly claimed to refute or at least left himself open to the interpretation that he has sought to refute, by means of the example. I propose to try to make clear that none of these three theses is refuted, or even threatened with counterevidence, by Grünbaum's Falsification Example



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