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Durham University

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Publication details

Vickers, Peter (2010). Fluorescent Aporetics. Metascience 19(1): 105-108.

Author(s) from Durham


How should we proceed if we find ourselves with good reason to believe conflicting theses? We have all been in such a position at one time or another. Such conflicts immediately call for resolution, and we feel compelled to reject one or another assumption as soon as possible. Often such a conflicting set of beliefs isn’t merely annoying, but actually dictates that we should carry out two contrary actions. For example, depending on what assumption we reject, we might turn left or right at a T-junction. Relevant situations crop up everywhere; for a soldier, such a decision might well be a matter of life and death (there is good reason to believe the map, but also good reason to believe the guide: what to do?). And there are many famous examples in the history of science, where the decision can affect our vision of how the world works, which explanations and predictions we infer, and even how we should build instruments and conduct experiments.