Erkenntnis 86 (6):1453-1468 (2021)

Corey Dethier
Leibniz University Hanover
Pierre Duhem’s influential argument for holism relies on a view of the role that background theory plays in testing: according to this still common account of “auxiliary hypotheses,” elements of background theory serve as truth-apt premises in arguments for or against a hypothesis. I argue that this view is mistaken. Rather than serving as truth-apt premises in arguments, auxiliary hypotheses are employed as “epistemic tools”: instruments that perform specific tasks in connecting our theoretical questions with the world but that are not premises in arguments. On the resulting picture, the acceptability of an auxiliary hypothesis depends not on its truth but on contextual factors such as the task or purpose it is put to and the other tools employed alongside it.
Keywords Duhem  holism  auxiliary hypotheses  testing  confirmation  underdetermination
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-019-00164-9
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Calibrating Statistical Tools: Improving the Measure of Humanity's Influence on the Climate.Corey Dethier - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 94:158-166.

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