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an unproved theory; a conjecture


any proposition which is advanced for testing or appraisal as a generalization about a phenomenon. See also EXPERIMENTAL HYPOTHESIS, NULL HYPOTHESIS, HYPOTHETICO-DEDUCTIVE EXPLANATION AND METHOD.



that which lies at the base of something; cause or essence. Examples of hypothesis are Democritus’ “atoms,” Plato’s “ideas,” and Aristotle’s “prime mover.” In modern usage a hypothesis is an assumption or speculation expressed in the form of a judgment (or judgments) of something, for example, the “anticipation of nature” in the formulation of laws of natural science. The original meaning of the term “hypothesis” has become part of the notion of “scientific hypothesis,” expressing a preliminary judgment about regular, or causal, relationships.

According to I. Kant, a hypothesis is not idle speculation, but an opinion about the real status of things, worked out under the strict supervision of reason. As one means of explaining facts and observations—experimental data—a hypothesis is most often worked out according to the rule “What we want to explain is analogous to what we already know.” Any scientific hypothesis begins with a cognitive question, for example: “If heavenly bodies are subject to the law of free falling, then why is the motion of the planets possible?” The question expresses the need of cognition, or passing from nonknowledge to knowledge, and it arises when certain data are available for answering it—facts, additional theories or hypotheses, and so forth. In this sense a scientific hypothesis, in keeping with its gnoseological role, is a connecting link between “knowledge” and “nonknowledge” (hence the role of the hypothesis in processes of scientific discovery) and, in keeping with its logical role, is “a form of development of natural science, since it has to do with thought” (F. Engels, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 20, p. 555). A description of a hypothesis as a basic form of cognitive mastery of the world reflects not only its role in natural science, but also and equally its role in the social sciences. An example is the hypothesis of materialism in sociology advanced by K. Marx. In Lenin’s words, this hypothesis first raised sociology to the rank of a science (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 1, pp. 136-37, 139-40).

In order to be scientific, a hypothesis must satisfy several requirements. First, it should be verifiable (at least in principle), that is, the consequences adduced from it by logical deduction should be submitted to experimental verification and should correspond to the results of experiments, observations, and available factual material. Therefore, science tends to give a hypothesis a precise logical (mathematical) formulation so that it can be included as a general principle in a deductive system, and the results of deduction can later be compared with the results of observations and experiments. A purely logical “skeleton” of the procedure for introducing hypotheses in a deductive proof and eliminating them is provided, for example, by the rules of so-called natural logical deduction. The methodological techniques for confirming a hypothesis and particularly its likelihood at a given level of knowledge are studied in inductive and probability logic in the theory of statistical solutions. The second requirement for a hypothesis is that it be sufficiently general and have sufficient predictive force—that is, it should explain not only those phenomena whose observation gave rise to it but also all related phenomena. In addition, it should serve as the basis for drawing conclusions about unknown phenomena (a characteristic, in particular, of so-called mathematical hypotheses). The third requirement is that a hypothesis not be logically contradictory. By the rules of logic, any conclusions can be drawn from a contradictory hypothesis—both those verifiable in the sense of the first requirement and their negations. A contradictory hypothesis is deliberately devoid of cognitive value. The first and second requirements distinguish scientific hypotheses from so-called working hypotheses, which are intended only for the “tentative explanation” of a given phenomenon and do not claim to reflect the “true state of affairs.” Working hypotheses are often used as intermediary links in scientific constructions because of their didactic value.


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Dzhevons, S. Osnovy nauki. St. Petersburg, 1881. Chapter 23.
Asmus, V. F. “Gipoteza.” In Logika. Moscow, 1956.
Kuznetsov, I. V. “O matematicheskoi gipoteze.” Voprosy filosofii, 1962, no. 10.
Pólya, G. Matematika i pravdopodobnye rassuzhdeniia. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from English.)
Kopnin, P. V. Gipoteza i poznanie deistvitel’nosti. Kiev, 1962.
Novoselov, M. M. “K voprosu o korrektnom primenenii veroiat-nostnykh metodov pri analize myslitel’nykh zadach.” Voprosy psikhologii, 1963, no. 2.
Vil’keev, D. V. “Rol’ gipotezy v obuchenii.” Sovetskaia pedagogi-ka, 1967, no. 6.
Bazhenov, L. B. “Sovremennaia nauchnaia gipoteza.” In Mate-rialisticheskaia dialektika i metody estestvennykh nauk. Moscow,1968.



(science and technology)
A proposition which is assumed to be true in proving another proposition.
A proposition which is thought to be true because its consequences are found to be true.
A statement which specifies a population or distribution, and whose truth can be tested by sample evidence.
References in periodicals archive ?
Of course, we remain concerned about any incidents of violence and we'll make that clear, but I'm not going to hypothetically venture to guess what will happen next.
smoothing group) that hypothetically beat their analysts' earnings forecasts is represented by [[alpha].
Instead, they drunkenly and hypothetically discuss how to kill their bosses, and be-fore they know it, they have hired a murder consultant to help them pull off the deed.
We say hypothetically because we know some of us are not able to stick to that government law of six hours at the office during the month of fastC*anyway that's another topic all together.
When asked hypothetically in 2009 about rights that might be included in a new constitution, large majorities said they would support freedom of speech and religion.
Now that they are setting the 2012-13 budget, lawmakers could, hypothetically, pass a resolution that said they would not use that $830 million in federal money to reduce the amount of state dollars going to public education.
According to him the two countries can hypothetically accede to Schengen separately but this is not politically feasible and advisable.
Ladbrokes' spokesman Nick Weinberg said: "We don't take accumulators on the Oscars, but, hypothetically it could have paid out pounds 235.
One can only imagine the mixture of rage and mockery that would appear if, hypothetically, Great Britain asked Ireland to change its name to "Southern Ireland" or if China asked that Mongolia is named "Northern Mongolia," Wiberg writes.
Nissan eventually aims to install the communication technologies in its vehicles, which could hypothetically create a society where cars can safely and effectively navigate without traffic lights or lanes, officials said.
However, it can, in principle, provide evidence in support of, or, hypothetically, against the biblical account.