more on "arguable"

Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Mon May 20 16:40:23 UTC 2002

from , a post from
H.M. Hubey:

The original simple view of science was: (i) look at the data (ii) make
a hypothesis, (iii) test the hypothesis.

The "experiment" in (iii) was supposed to "verify" the

When it was shown that the experiment did no such thing (e.g. Einstein's
remark "No amount of experimentation can prove me right; a single
experiment can prove me wrong"), then people switched to "confirmation"
i.e. the experiment did not verify but "confirm" the hypothesis.

Hempel showed logically that it was also bad. The only thing left was
falsification. Nobody can argue that a counterexample to a general
statement falsifies the general statement.

Note the use of "argue" in the last paragraph. To me, "argue that X"
means "argue in support of the proposition X". Here it is used to mean
"argue against the proposition X", ~= "dispute"

-- Mark A. Mandel
   Linguist at Large

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