Sociology Index


The hypothetico-deductive model of science is the classical or traditional model of how science operates: scientists are assumed to begin with a theory, deduce a hypothesis from the theory and then gather evidence to test the hypothesis. In hypothetico-deductive model of science if the hypothesis is confirmed the theory is assumed to be correct or useful. Hypothetico-deductive reasoning is a very important method for testing theories or hypotheses. Max Weber rejected the hypothetico-deductive model of science. One of the most influential accounts of epistemology in the philosophy of science is the hypothetico-deductive model, and any discussion of the hypothetico-deductive model requires a discussion of the deduction of empirical consequences from theoretical statements. The scientific truths produced through the hypothetico-deductive model of science are perspectival and bound to a particular paradigm.

Even Carl Hempel realized early on that the 'deductive' half of the hypethetico-deductive model is not as deductive as the name implies. (Hempel, 1966, p.31). In standard hypothetico-deductive model of science, bootstrapping and Bayesian accounts of confirmation, idealizations and approximations are simply ignored. A common understanding of science is that: Progress occurs through a process of falsification, falsifiability or refutability. Incorrect theories are rejected on the basis of empirical evidence.

Overtime this culminates with correct theories remaining in place. Scientific research ought to adhere to the logical and empirical procedures outlined by the hypothetico-deductive model of science. The main problem with subscribing to the hypothetico-deductive model of science as a complete explanation of the way in which science works is that it disguises the ‘perspectival’ nature of the knowledge it produces.

The Hypothetico-Deductive Model: 
The ideal method for science, according to hypothetico-deductive model, would seem to be purely deductive, starting with observations statements directly tied to experience and deducing general laws according to the laws of logic. To accord more with actual scientific practice and to put aside the problem of induction, the hypothetico-deductive model of science was devised.

Another approach to verifying the truthfulness of statements about reality is to assess them as logical conclusions of laws established a priori through the human experience. The Hypothetico-Deductive model, in effect, admits that the rules of positivism are impossible to follow, that objective, value-free, unbiased observations are impossible to obtain.

The Hypothetico-Deductive model approach is to establish a set of rules whereby objective, value-free, unbiased conclusions can be drawn from admittedly biased observations. In the Hypothetico-Deductive model, the event to be explained is a conclusion drawn from premises that cover one or more universal laws.

Philosophy and the New Archaeology - by Paul Newall -
Binford advocated Hempel's hypothetico-deductive model, that is, offering an explanatory hypothesis, deducing its consequences and testing for them, even though it was quickly shown to be flawed. The most common example used in this context is a proposed law such as "all swans are white"; if true, it would follow straightforwardly that all swans are white, but in order to confirm this we would have to check all swans, so it can never be confirmed deductively. In order to confirm that we have a law, we would have to check all civilisations anywhere and at any time. The hypothetico-deductive model can thus only apply in restricted domains.

Why medicine still needs a scientific foundation: restating the hypothetico-deductive model - part one
The hypotheticodeductive model of science provides both a coherent description of the growth of scientific knowledge and a prescription for the conduct of good science.

Why medicine still needs a scientific foundation: restating the hypothetico-deductive model - part two
Kevork Hopayian.

Many contemporary criticisms of science and medical science are based on false characterisations of the scientific method and on imprecise usage of the terms linearity, reductionism, and positivism. The hypotheticodeductive model does not deny the value or meaning of other disciplines, but it does clearly demarcate what constitutes the scientific method from others.

The hypothetico-deductive model is very different to positivism. The social behaviour of individuals is not discordant with the hypotheticodeductive model because all individuals, whether scientists, lawyers or politicians, will want evidence that backs up their prior beliefs. What matters is what happens to the theory when the evidence is found rather than what motivated its collection.

Rules of engagement in the hypotheticodeductive model
Kevork Hopayian, General Practitioner.