On auxiliary hypotheses

As regards auxiliary hypotheses we propose to lay down the rule that only those are acceptable whose introduction does not diminish the degree of falsifiability or testability of the system in question, but, on the contrary, increases it. … If the degree of falsifiability is increased, then introducing the hypothesis has actually strengthened the theory: the system now rules out more than it did previously: it prohibits more. We can also put it like this. The introduction of an auxiliary hypothesis should always be regarded as an attempt to construct a new system; and this new system should then always be judged on the issue of whether it would, if adopted, constitute a real advance in our knowledge of the world. An example of an auxiliary hypothesis which is eminently acceptable in this sense is Pauli’s exclusion principle. An example of an unsatisfactory auxiliary hypothesis would be the contraction hypothesis of Fitzgerald and Lorentz which had no falsifiable consequences but merely served to restore the agreement between theory and experiment … . [62]

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