Duhem on Physical Theory and Experiment
which outlines Pierre Duhem's takedown of falsification and positivism.
Modus tollens states that
- /.: not-p
- heliocentrism→visible stellar parallax
- no observed stellar parallax
- /.: no heliocentrism
But in every case, what was falsified was not the main proposition, but certain auxiliary assumptions associated with it. Heliocentrism would result in visible parallax IF the stars were close enough. Stellar distance was based on the brightness and apparent diameters of the stars; but those diameters were spurious: artifacts caused by optical aberration. The stars were really much farther away and the resulting parallax was too small to detect at the time.
Similarly, inheritance was not through the mingling of blood, as Darwin and his contemporaries thought, but through genes. That is, inheritance is digital, not analog. A gene mutation could spread through a population until it reached a critical concentration and bearers began mating with one another. And the electron bore the electrical charge for permanent magnets.
IOW, the logical situation is:
- /.: not-p1 OR not-p2 OR... not-pn
Consider the SF possibilities.