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The Crux of Crucial Experiments: Confirmation in Molecular Biology

Weber, Marcel (2007) The Crux of Crucial Experiments: Confirmation in Molecular Biology. In: [2007] LSE-Pitt Conference: Confirmation, Induction and Science (London, 8 - 10 March, 2007).

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    Abstract

    I defend the view that single experiments can provide a sufficient reason for preferring one among a group of hypotheses against the widely held belief that “crucial experiments” are impossible. My argument is based on the examination of a historical case from molecular biology, namely the Meselson-Stahl experiment. “The most beautiful experiment in biology”, as it is known, provided the first experimental evidence for the operation of a semi-conservative mechanism of DNA replication, as predicted by Watson and Crick in 1953. I use a mechanistic account of explanation to show that this case is best construed as an inference to the best explanation (IBE). Furthermore, I show how such an account can deal with Duhem's well-known arguments against crucial experiments as well as Van Fraassen's “bad lot” argument against IBE.


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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Keywords: Confirmation, induction, molecular biology, DNA replication, crucial experiments, inference to the best explanation
    Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
    Conferences and Volumes: [2007] LSE-Pitt Conference: Confirmation, Induction and Science (London, 8 - 10 March, 2007)
    Depositing User: Marcel Weber
    Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2007
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:14
    Item ID: 3218
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/3218

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