On Sober's Criterion of Contrastive Testability


Elliott Sober has suggested his criterion of contrastive testability as an improvement over previous criteria of empirical significance like falsifiability. I argue that his criterion renders almost any theory empirically significant because its restrictions on auxiliary assumptions are to weak. Even when the criterion is modified to avoid this trivialization, it fails to meet other conditions of adequacy for a criterion of empirical significance that follow from Sober's position. I suggest to define empirical significance as empirical non-equivalence to a tautology, because this definition does meet the conditions of adequacy. Specifically, it is equivalent to the standard Bayesian criterion of empirical significance whenever all probabilities are defined and contains falsifiability as a special case. This latter feature is important because those conditions of adequacy that apply to criteria of deductive empirical significance single out falsifiability.



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