PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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(Un)Testability, Scientific Baselines, and Entrenched Theories

Science makes use of various “zero-force” and “steady-state” laws in scientific theorizing. Examples of such laws include Newton’s first law in mechanics, the Hardy-Weinberg law in population genetics, Duverger’s law in political science, and the competitive exclusion principle in community ecology. Scientists use these laws as baselines upon which they build more complex models and hypotheses to account for phenomena of interest. This essay looks at the laws, theorems, and hypotheses that serve as scientific baselines, revealing a logical structure that each shares. It will be demonstrated that baselines, due to their structure, use and our own epistemic limits, are untestable.

Author Information:

Michael Goldsby    
School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs
Washington State University


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