Lakatos's challenge? Auxiliary hypotheses and non-monotonous inference

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Gerhard Schurz [2001, Journal for General Philosophy of Science, 32, 65-107] has proposed to reconstruct auxiliary hypothesis addition, e.g., postulation of Neptune to immunize Newtonian mechanics, with concepts from non-monotonous inference to avoid the retention of false predictions that are among the consequence-set of the deductive model. However, the non-monotonous reconstruction retains the observational premise that is indeed rejected in the deductive model. Hence, his proposal fails to do justice to Lakatos' core-belt model, therefore fails to meet what Schurz coined "Lakatos' challenge". It is argued that Lakatos's distinction between core and belt of a research program is not mapable onto premise-set and consequence-set and that Schurz's understanding of a ceteris paribus clause as a transfinite list of (absent) interfering factors is problematic. I propose a simple reading of Lakatos's use of the term ceteris paribus clause and motivate why the term hypothesis addition, despite not being interpretable literally, came to be entrenched. "It is not that we propose a theory and Nature may shout NO; rather we propose a maze of theories and Nature may shout INCONSISTENT." Lakatos (1978, p. 45).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-415
Number of pages11
JournalJournal for General Philosophy of Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Oct

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Philosophy


  • Auxiliary hypothesis
  • Ceteris paribus clause
  • Deductive theory reconstruction
  • Non-monotonous reasoning
  • Theory immunization


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