Reformulating the Second Law

Paul Patton, Nicholas Overgaard, Hakob Barseghyan

Abstract


The current formulation of the second law is flawed since it does not specify the causal relations between the outcomes of theory assessment and the actual acceptance/unacceptance of a theory; it merely tells us that a theory was assessed by the method employed at the time. We propose a new formulation of the second law: “If a theory satisfies the acceptance criteria of the method actually employed at the time, then it becomes accepted into the mosaic; if it does not, it remains unaccepted; if it is inconclusive whether the theory satisfies the method, the theory can be accepted or not accepted.” This new formulation makes the causal connection between theory assessment outcomes and cases of theory acceptance/unacceptance explicit. Also, this new formulation is not a tautology because it forbids certain logically possible scenarios, such as a theory satisfying the method of the time yet remaining unaccepted. Finally, we outline what inferences an observational scientonomist can make regarding theory assessment outcomes from the record of accepted theories.

Suggested Modifications

[Sciento-2017-0004]:

Accept the following reformulation of the second law:

  • The second law: if a theory satisfies the acceptance criteria of the method employed at the time, it becomes accepted into the mosaic; if it does not, it remains unaccepted; if assessment is inconclusive, the theory can be accepted or not accepted.

Accept the following definitions of theory assessment outcomes:

  • Outcome: satisfied ≡ the theory is deemed to conclusively meet the requirements of the method employed at the time.
  • Outcome: not satisfied ≡ the theory is deemed to conclusively not meet the requirements of the method employed at the time.
  • Outcome: inconclusive ≡ it is unclear whether or not the requirements of the method employed at the time are met.

Accept the following ontology of theory assessment outcomes:

  • The three possible outcomes of theory assessment are “satisfied”, “not satisfied”, and “inconclusive”.

Accept the following redefinition of employed method:

  • Employed method ≡ a method is said to be employed if its requirements constitute the actual expectations of the community.

Reject:

  • The previous formulation of the second law.
  • The previous definitions of theory assessment outcomes.
  • The previous ontology of theory assessment outcomes.
  • The previous definition of employed method

[Sciento-2017-0005]:

Contingent upon the acceptance of the preceding modification [Sciento-2017-0004], accept that the new second law is not a tautology. 

[Sciento-2017-0006]:

Contingent upon the acceptance of modification [Sciento-2017-0004], accept the following set of inferences of theory assessment outcomes from the acceptance or unacceptance of a single contender (see text).

Also accept the following set of inferences of theory assessment outcomes from the acceptance or unacceptance of two contender theories (see text).


Keywords


theoretical scientonomy; the second law; employed method; theory assessment; assessment outcomes; theory acceptance; method satisfaction; method; theory

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References


Barseghyan, H. (2015). The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.


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