Positivism vs Realism

James Francis Lyons-Weiler weiler at ERS.UNR.EDU
Mon Dec 15 07:42:04 CST 1997

The confusion on boldness is still there for you, T.  Whenever an ad-hoc
hypothesis is concocted to save a previously rejected hypothesis (and that
is the order in which it occurs - NOT simultaneously), that hypothesis
cannot be tested - we agree to that much.  Now consider that technological
advances make the hypothesis testable - according to your interpretation
of "boldness", before the technology, it was not bold; after the
technological breakthrough, it is.  This seems illogical.  The empirical
content of a hypothesis and the degree to which it extends beyond accepted
facts is a characteristic that doesn't change - it is (supposed to be) a
rather straigtforward feature of a hypothesis - but a contingent one ;
i.e., should it survive a test.  Popperian was well aware that some
ad-hocs will eventually become testable - and the formal logical allocates
just as much boldness to a hypothesis whether it is testable or not (at
time t).

It's like potential energy.  This rock would surely release a lot a
potential energy IF it is pushed off a cliff.  The energy is there whether
the rock pushed or not.



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