Framework confirmation by Newtonian abduction

Synthese:1-39 (2019)
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Abstract

The analysis of theory-confirmation generally takes the deductive form: show that a theory in conjunction with physical data and auxiliary hypotheses yield a prediction about phenomena; verify the prediction; provide a quantitative measure of the degree of theory-confirmation this yields. The issue of confirmation for an entire framework either does not arise, or is dismissed in so far as frameworks are thought not to be the kind of thing that admits scientific confirmation. I argue that there is another form of scientific reasoning that has not received philosophical attention, what I call Newtonian abduction, that does provide confirmation for frameworks as a whole, and does so in two novel ways. I further argue that Newtonian abduction is at least as important a form of reasoning in science as standard deductive and inductive forms. The form is beautifully summed up by Maxwell : “The true method of physical reasoning is to begin with the phenomena and to deduce the forces from them by a direct application of the equations of motion.”

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Erik Curiel
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

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References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Otto Neurath.
Laws and symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1991 - London and New York: Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.

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