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The Duhem-Quine thesis and experimental economics: A reinterpretation

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  • Morten Søberg

Abstract

The Duhem-Quine thesis asserts that any empirical evaluation of a theory is in fact a composite test of several interconnected hypotheses. Recalcitrant evidence signals falsity within the conjunction of hypotheses, but logic alone cannot pinpoint the individual element(s) inside the theoretical cluster responsible for a false prediction. This paper considers the relevance of the Duhem-Quine thesis for experimental economics. A starting point is to detail how laboratory evaluations of economic hypotheses constitute composite tests. Another aim is to scrutinize the strategy of conducting a series of experiments in order to hem in the source(s) of disconfirmative evidence. A Bayesian approach is employed to argue that reproducing experiments may be useful in terms of identifying plausible causes of recalcitrant data.

Suggested Citation

  • Morten Søberg, 2005. "The Duhem-Quine thesis and experimental economics: A reinterpretation," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 581-597.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:12:y:2005:i:4:p:581-597
    DOI: 10.1080/13501780500343680
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