Volume 10, 2001
Philosophy of Science
Bootstrapping and the Problem of Testing Quantitative Theoretical Hypotheses
Two alternative solutions to the problem of computing the values of theoretical quantities and of testing theoretical hypotheses are Sneed’s structuralist eliminationism and Glymour’s bootstrapping. Sneed attempts to solve the problem by eliminating theoretical quantities by means of the so-called Ramsey-Sneed sentence that represents the global empirical claim of the given theory. Glymour proposes to solve the problem by deducing the values of the theoretical quantities from the hypothesis to be tested. In those cases where the theoretical quantities are not strongly Ramsey-eliminable, eliminationism does not succeed in computing the values of theoretical quantities, and it is compelled to use bootstrapping in this task. On the other hand, we see that a general notion of bootstrapping provides a formally correct procedure for computing theoretical quantities, and thus contributes to the solution to the problem of testing theoretical hypotheses involving these quantities.