Quantitative realizations of philosophy of science: William Whewell and statistical methods

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (3):399-409 (2011)
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Abstract

In this paper, I examine William Whewell’s (1794–1866) ‘Discoverer’s Induction’, and argue that it 21 supplies a strikingly accurate characterization of the logic behind many statistical methods, exploratory 22 data analysis (EDA) in particular. Such methods are additionally well-suited as a point of evaluation of 23 Whewell’s philosophy since the central techniques of EDA were not invented until after Whewell’s death, 24 and so couldn’t have influenced his views. The fact that the quantitative details of some very general 25 methods designed to suggest hypotheses would so closely resemble Whewell’s views of how theories 26 are formed is, I suggest, a strongly positive comment on these views.

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Kent Johnson
Last affiliation: University of California, Irvine

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