The Refutation of Laws and Theories

  • Jennifer Trusted
Part of the Modern Introductions to Philosophy book series


In the previous chapter a scientific law was defined as an empirical generalisation which was explained by a scientific theory; it was thereby distinguished from a simple empirical generalisation. Examples of simple empirical generalisations are ‘All crows are black’, ‘All dogs bark’, ‘All men are mortal’. Examples of scientific laws are ‘All samples of chlorine gas are green’, ‘All heavy objects fall to the ground with an acceleration of 32 ft/sec./sec.’, ‘The pressure of a gas is inversely proportional to its volume at constant temperature’. Because laws are supported by and give support to theories, the refutation of a law is a much more important matter than the refutation of a simple empirical generalisation.


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Questions and Further Reading

  1. R. B. Braithwaite, Scientific Explanation (Cambridge UP, Cambridge: 1955), ch. 1.Google Scholar
  2. J. M. Copi, Introduction to Logic (Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc., New York: 1972), ch. 8, sects 3 and 6.Google Scholar
  3. N. R. Hanson, Patterns of Discovery (Cambridge UP, Cambridge: 1965).Google Scholar
  4. C. G. Hempel, Aspects of Scientific Explanation (Free Press, New York: 1965), ch. 1.Google Scholar
  5. A. Pap, The ‘A Priori’in Physical Theory (Russell, New York: 1868).Google Scholar
  6. K. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (see 4 above), ch. 4.Google Scholar
  7. K. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations (see 4 above), ch. 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jennifer Trusted 1979

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  • Jennifer Trusted

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