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Theoretical Physics' Method: Deduction (Nothing Else)

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Old January 1st 16, 07:59 PM posted to sci.astro
Pentcho Valev
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Default Theoretical Physics' Method: Deduction (Nothing Else)

W. H. Newton-Smith, THE RATIONALITY OF SCIENCE, Routledge, London, 1981, p.. 199: "By a theory I shall mean the deductive closure of a set of theoretical postulates together with an appropriate set of auxiliary hypotheses; that is, everything that can be deduced from this set."

If the theory is not deductive, then it is an "empirical enterprise", that is, no physical theory at all:

Albert Einstein: "From a systematic theoretical point of view, we may imagine the process of evolution of an empirical science to be a continuous process of induction. Theories are evolved and are expressed in short compass as statements of a large number of individual observations in the form of empirical laws, from which the general laws can be ascertained by comparison.. Regarded in this way, the development of a science bears some resemblance to the compilation of a classified catalogue. It is, as it were, a purely empirical enterprise. But this point of view by no means embraces the whole of the actual process ; for it slurs over the important part played by intuition and deductive thought in the development of an exact science. As soon as a science has emerged from its initial stages, theoretical advances are no longer achieved merely by a process of arrangement. Guided by empirical data, the investigator rather develops a system of thought which, in general, is built up logically from a small number of fundamental assumptions, the so-called axioms."

Einstein's special relativity was deductive (although using a false axiom and invalid arguments) but his general relativity was an "empirical enterprise".

Pentcho Valev


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