A brief word on Tangri’s refutationism

24th May 2014

Ron Southern

Introduction*

The discussion between Tangri (1989a, 1989b) and Murray  (1989) raises issues that go beyond a consideration of the utility of refutation. Their debate effectively raises questions about what constitutes the socio-political context of discipline and how that context may effect the researcher’s ability to make decisions. Firstly, let me say that  I am surprised that the debate continues along the lines of an analytic refutationism. The crude singularity of refutationism can never deny the credibility of complex historical hypotheses, because the existence of negative results rarely negates the entirety of the sets of relationships which form any specific hypothesis. Equally even where refutation leads to minor changes in hypotheses, at what point, given the social and political relationships involved in the constitution of hypotheses, is the hypothesis no longer plausible?

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Southern, R.
A brief word on Tangri’s refutationism
June 1990
30
77–78
Short Report
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