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How to do Things With Theory: The Instrumental Role of Auxiliary Hypotheses in Testing

Dethier, Corey (2019) How to do Things With Theory: The Instrumental Role of Auxiliary Hypotheses in Testing. [Preprint]

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Abstract

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 (reliability-apt) "epistemic tools": instruments that perform specific tasks in connecting our theoretical questions with the world but that are not (or not usually) 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.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Dethier, Coreycorey.dethier@gmail.com0000-0002-1240-8391
Keywords: Duhem; holism; auxiliary hypotheses; testing; confirmation; underdetermination
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Depositing User: Mr Corey Dethier
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2019 04:05
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2019 04:05
Item ID: 16426
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10670-0...
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Date: 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16426

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