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Extra resources for Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History
But Hume would argue that if you were truly inductive in reasoning, you would gather each and every possible observation there is to be made about each place, including all of those I mention above and no doubt millions of others. In actuality, of course, scientists never do this. Instead, we find that their very selection of a problem for investigation means that they select some evidence as more relevant than others. The process of selecting some things for observation while ignoring others means that the scientist does indeed operate with some preliminary expectations (let’s call them what they are: biases) about the phenomena s/he attempts to explain.
G. we find population growth, but it is accompanied by an egalitarian political system or one based on achievement, not ascription or inheritance). The theory is then revised in a way that might accommodate our findings (and re-tested accordingly). If, on the other hand, the hypothesis is not rejected, it is said to provide tentative (provisional) support for the theory from which it comes. The theory then may be re-tested under different circumstances or conditions. Popper claimed to have solved the Fallacy of Objectivity that Hume had noted in the eighteenth century.
Similarly, an explanatorily adequate theory in science is one that has predictive power for events that have not yet occurred. Chomsky’s formulation parallels that of James Lett (1987), who distinguishes between nomological/deductive theories and statistical/probabilistic theories. Nomological theories are quantitative statements of relationship that occur universally between two or more types of phenomena. Examples might be Newton’s f = ma (the force of an object is equal to its mass times acceleration) or Einstein’s famous e = mc2 (energy = mass times the velocity of light squared).