What criterion measures would you utilize
What criterion measures would you utilize to assess or evaluate a scientific theory?
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There are several heurestic criteria to evaluate a new scientific theory.
1) First and the basic task of a scientific theory is to explain a specific phenomenon for which it is being formulated.
2) It has to be noted that a scientific theory will never be in isolation. The phenomenon to be explained is already under a particular domain (mechanics, electromagnetism, nuclear physics, evolutionary theory, quantum chemistry, etc.). So, another criterion is to see how this new theory connects and harmonizes with other sister theories of the domain. Related to this – the new theory should respect and should not violate certain basic assumptions of the domain (e.g., in mechanics, it should not violate Newton’s laws; it should respect conservation of energy or momentum, etc.)
3) If the theory, apart from explaining the phenomenon, can make predictions about other related phenomena, then the case becomes much stronger.
4) If the three points are theoretical, there are few observationals criteria that can be used to assess a theory. Assuming that the theory has been verified experimentally for the specific phenomenon, there should be ways of making sure the link between the new theory and experimental observations are tightly linked. In another sense, the experiment designed and the data received should be such that they should not be explained by some other theory as well. (In technical jargon, this is called under-determination of a theory)
5) The theory should be formulated such that it should be possible to conduct experiments to evalute its failure as well. If there are no means to demonstrate that a theory can be wrong, then it is a bad theory. That is, a theory which works no matter what is not a theory at all. (The technical jargon is falsification of a theory).
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