Chapter

Mill on the Hypothetical Method: A Discussion of Achinstein's Defense of Mill and Newton on Induction

Frederick M. Kronz

in Philosophy of Science Matters

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738625
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894642 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738625.003.0008
Mill on the Hypothetical Method: A Discussion of Achinstein's Defense of Mill and Newton on Induction

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Achinstein has recently put forth an interpretation of the Whewell–Mill debates in which the debates are regarded as a dispute over which of two incompatible modes of inference, hypothetico-deduction and induction, is right for science. Achinstein sides with the inductivist Mill and defends the view that there are universal rules of induction. He regards the rules put forth by Newton and by Mill as exemplary, and he maintains that these rules exclude the hypothetico-deductive method. But Achinstein fails to appreciate that the rules of Newton and Mill really do not exclude the hypothetico-deductive method, and that neither Mill nor Newton (at least on Mill's interpretation of Newton, which is based on Newton's actual practice of science) is truly averse to the use of hypotheses in science. Furthermore, the Whewell-Mill debate is really a dispute about which of two compatible modes of inference, hypothetico-deduction and induction, is subsidiary to the other. Rather than side with Whewell or Mill, an alternative approach is advocated in this essay; the two modes of inference are regarded as mutually complementary rather than hierarchically related, and it is the scientific context that determines which of the two is appropriate. Consonant with this approach and with Achinstein's view that there are general methodological rules that govern the practice of science, a new version of the hypothetico-deductive method, the Enhanced Hypothetical Method, is provisionally formulated. It synthesizes key insights put forth by Whewell, Mill, Peirce, Popper, Kuhn, and others concerning the effective use of hypotheses in science.

Keywords: scientific method; induction; hypotheses; Newton; Whewell; Mill; Achinstein

Chapter.  5319 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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