The synthetic thesis of truth helps mitigate the reproducibility crisis and is an inspiration for predictive ecology
Keywords:philosophy of science, scientific realism, truth thesis, empirical and rational support, causal mechanisms
There are currently serious concerns that published scientific findings often fail to be reproducible, and that some solutions may be gleaned by attending the several methodological and sociological recommendations that could be found in the literature. However, researchers would also arrive at some answers by considering the advice of the philosophy of science, particularly semantics, about theses on truth related to scientific realism. Sometimes scientists understand the correspondence thesis of truth (CTT) as asserting that the next unique empirical confirmation of a hypothesis suffices to attribute truth to it provisionally. Such empiricist bias is not necessarily at the core of CTT, but Mario Bunge proposed the synthetic thesis of truth (STT), based on CTT, to explicitly avoid the bias. STT requires considering a hypothesis corroborated, both by purely empirical confirmation and external consistency or compatibility with the bulk of existing background knowledge (systemicity). While a capricious understanding of CTT could be rigged to recommend the “one shot game” in hypothesis testing, STT clearly demands the use of multiple approaches, empirical as well as theoretical, and it asserts that a scientific test is effective to the extent to which it is neither purely empirical, nor viewed in isolation. Pattern consistency (empirical control) together with an understanding of causal relations (rational together with empirical control) make confirmed hypotheses robust and more reliable. The militancy of the double mechanism of hypothesis control of STT can help mitigate the reproducibility crisis. Earl Werner’s research program in community ecology is an example of the (implicit) use of STT criteria, which leads to the development of reliable, cross-checked, ecological results, with high predictive capacity.
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