Hypothesis Formation Using Part-Whole Interrelations

  • Lindley Darden
  • Roy Rada
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 197)


The processes scientists use to form new hypotheses are often regarded as mysterious and outside the scope of philosophy of science. Yet, some philosophers have addressed the issue and suggested that scientists use prior knowledge to guide the formation of new hypotheses by reasoning by analogy (Hanson, 1965; Hesse, 1966). This chapter examines methods for hypothesis formation in science that use mappings to prior information, as analogical reasoning does. However, which information to map is guided by postulating interrelations among two bodies of knowledge. Such interrelations are more specific than analogy relations. The interrelation to be examined most extensively here is “part-whole.” Given information about parts, what hypotheses can be formed about properties of the whole and vice versa? An answer to this question can help guide hypothesis formation in appropriate cases in which the interrelation between two bodies of knowledge is plausibly that of “part-whole”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lindley Darden
    • 1
  • Roy Rada
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Advanced Computer Studies and Committee on History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.National Library of MedicineBethesdaUSA

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