Predictivism and avoidance of ad hoc-ness: an empirical study

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Predictivism is the thesis that evidence successfully predicted by a scientific theory counts more (or ought to count more) in the confirmation of that theory than already known evidence would. One rationale that has been proposed for predictivism is that predictive success guards against ad hoc hypotheses. Despite the intuitive attraction of predictivism, there is historical evidence that speaks against it. As valuable as the historical evidence may be, however, it is largely indirect evidence for the epistemic attitudes of individual – albeit prominent – scientists. This paper presents the results of an empirical study of scientists’ attitudes toward predictivism and ad hoc-ness (n = 492), which will put the debate on a more robust empirical footing. The paper also draws attention to a tension between the ad hoc-ness avoidance rationale of predictivism and the ways philosophers have spelled out the notion of ad hoc-ness.

Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Pages (from-to)68–77
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Accommodation
  • Ad hoc hypothesis
  • Confirmation
  • Empirical study
  • Prediction
  • Predictivism
  • Nestin
  • Physicians
  • Humans
  • Intuition
  • Empirical Research
  • Animals
  • Perciformes


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