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How To Do Things With an Infinte Regress

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2007, 00:00 authored by Kevin T. Kelly
Scientific methods may be viewed as procedures for converging to the true answer to a given empirical question. Typically, such methods converge to the truth only if certain empirical presuppositions are satisfied, which raises the question whether the presuppositions are satisfied. Another scientific method can be applied to this empirical question, and so forth, occasioning an empirical regress. So there is an obvious question about the point of such a regress. This paper explains how to assess the methodological worth of a methodological regress by solving for the strongest sense of single-method performance that can be achieved given that such a regress exists. Several types of regresses are “collapsed” into corresponding concepts of single method performance in this sense. The idea bears on some other issues in the philosophy of science, including Popper’s falsificationism and its relationship to Duhem’s problem.


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