Foundations of Science

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 47-65

First online:

Defeasible Reasoning + Partial Models: A Formal Framework for the Methodology of Research Programs

  • Fernando TohméAffiliated withDepartamento de Economía, Universidad Nacional del Sur, CONICET
  • , Claudio DelrieuxAffiliated withDepartamento de Ingeniería Eléctrica y de Computadoras, Universidad Nacional del Sur
  • , Otávio BuenoAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Miami Email author 

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In this paper we show that any reasoning process in which conclusions can be both fallible and corrigible can be formalized in terms of two approaches: (i) syntactically, with the use of defeasible reasoning, according to which reasoning consists in the construction and assessment of arguments for and against a given claim, and (ii) semantically, with the use of partial structures, which allow for the representation of less than conclusive information. We are particularly interested in the formalization of scientific reasoning, along the lines traced by Lakatos’ methodology of scientific research programs. We show how current debates in cosmology could be put into this framework, shedding light on a very controversial topic.


Partial structures Defeasible reasoning Lakatos Cosmology