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Durham University

The Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Professor Nancy Cartwright

Cartwright, N. (2016). Loose Talk Kills: What’s Worrying about Unity of Method. Philosophy of Science 83(5): 768-778.

Author(s) from Durham


There is danger in stressing commonalities among methods because the differences
matter in fixing the meaning of our claims. Different methods can, and often do,
test the same claim. But it takes a strong network of theory and empirical results to
ensure that. Failing that, we are likely to fall into inference by pun. We use one set
of methods to establish a claim, then draw inferences licensed by a similar-sounding
claim that calls for different methods of test. Our inferences fail and bridges we
build (or policies we set) depending on them fall down.