The doughnut of empirical correctness

Something for the shelf of philosophical objects...

The doughnut of empirical correctness in a theory constitutes its worth, while its hole of untruth constitutes its weakness. I regard it as a monstrous perversion of science to claim that a theory is all the better for its shortcomings; and I notice that in the luckier exact sciences, no-one dreams of making such a claim.

(Paul Samuelson in Blaug, 'The Methodology of Economics', p.97.)

Blaug does a good job of parrying that:

It is as though generations of physicists had ridiculed Newton's theory of gravity on the grounds that he committed himself to the patently unrealistic assumption that the masses of moving bodies are concentrated at their centre... Faced with the accusation that no theory with counterfactual assumptions can be taken seriously, the thesis of the irrelevance of assumptions is almost excusable. (p.104)

But mainly: new philosophical object! Almost two for the price of one, but a "hole of untruth" isn't an object, sadly.



Ahem -- there are quite a few metaphysicians who would contend that holes are indeed objects. Whether a hole of untruth is an object would depend on whether a doughnut of correctness is an object.

The same sort of metaphysicians would probably also be rather taken aback to find that the worth of their theories consisted solely in *empirical* correctness...