more from A.J. Ayer

Single Idea 19464

[catalogued under 14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 6. Falsification]

Full Idea

Why should a hypothesis which has failed the test be discarded unless this shows it to be unreliable; that is, having failed once it is likely to fail again? There is no contradiction in a hypothesis that was falsified being more likely to pass in future.

Gist of Idea

We only discard a hypothesis after one failure if it appears likely to keep on failing


A.J. Ayer (The Problem of Knowledge [1956], 2.viii)

Book Reference

Ayer,A.J.: 'The Problem of Knowledge' [Penguin 1966], p.74

A Reaction

People may become more likely to pass a test after they have failed at the first attempt. Birds which fail to fly at the first attempt usually achieve total mastery of it. There are different types of hypothesis here.