hypothetico-deductive method

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The method particularly associated with a philosophy of science that stresses the virtues of falsification. Most simply, a hypothesis is proposed, and consequences are deduced, which are then tested against experience. If the hypothesis is falsified, then we learn from the attempt, and are in a position to produce a better one. If not, then we can try other tests. One philosophical divide is between radical followers of Popper, who deny that probability accrues to a theory through its having survived such tests, and others who insist that it must, since otherwise it would be irrational to rely upon hypotheses that have survived until now. See also explanation, verisimilitude. Other criticisms of the method point out that in practice auxiliary assumptions are always made in working out the experimental consequences of a theory, and that theories acquire credibility in other, indirect ways. See also Duhem thesis.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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