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Ideas of Pierre Duhem, by Text

[French, 1861 - 1916, A practising physicist.]

1906 The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory
p.53 Observation can force rejection of some part of the initial set of claims
     Full Idea: Logic and observation alone do not force a scientist to reject a scientific claim if experimental observations so not turn out as expected. The scientist must reject something of the initial set of claims, but that is a matter of choice.
     From: report of Pierre Duhem (The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory [1906]) by Stephen Boulter - Why Medieval Philosophy Matters 2
     A reaction: This is a key point against any simplified Popperian notion of falsification. Tiny observations can't kill huge well supported theories.
p.187 p.101 Experiments only test groups of hypotheses, and can't show which one is wrong
     Full Idea: The physicist can never subject an isolated hypothesis to experimental test, but only a whole group of hypotheses; when the experiment is in disagreement with his predictions does not designate which one should be changed.
     From: Pierre Duhem (The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory [1906], p.187), quoted by Penelope Maddy - Naturalism in Mathematics II.2
     A reaction: This is the idea frequently invoked by Quine, in support of his holistic view of scientific knowledge (along with Neurath's Boat).