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Error Statistics and Duhem's Problem

Gregory R. Wheeler
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 67, No. 3 (Sep., 2000), pp. 410-420
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/188625
Page Count: 11
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Error Statistics and Duhem's Problem
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Abstract

No one has a well developed solution to Duhem's problem, the problem of how experimental evidence warrants revision of our theories. Deborah Mayo proposes a solution to Duhem's problem in route to her more ambitious program of providing a philosophical account of inductive inference and experimental knowledge. This paper is a response to Mayo's Error Statistics (ES) program, paying particular attention to her response to Duhem's problem. It turns out that Mayo's purported solution to Duhem's problem is very significant to her project, for the epistemic license claimed by ES and the philosophical underpinnings to her account of experimental knowledge depend on this solution. By introducing the partition problem, I argue that ES fails to solve Duhem's problem and therefore fails to provide an adequate account of experimental knowledge.

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