chapter  III
16 Pages

The Empiricist Treatment of Deduction and Necessity

The conception of induction is the indispensable foundation of an empiricist philosophy of science, and the insolubility of the problem it raises is bound up with the denial of necessary connexion between matters of fact. For the empiricist, necessity belongs only to logic and mathematics the deductions of which are all purely analytic, and nowadays the appearance of necessity in science is attributed wholly to the mathematical and deductive element freely admitted as part of its method. The futility of conventionalism as a device for explaining the necessary character of scientific laws should be obvious at once, and it is surprising that anybody has taken it seriously. Conventionalism enables the theorist to evade falsification, which, for Karl Popper, is the unforgivable sin in science. The philosopher who asserts that they are conventional does so, in order to make them conform to his own epistemological theory.