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an unproved theory; a conjecture
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


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.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
To limit the probability of erroneously rejecting any of [N.sub.0] = 100 true null hypotheses to the level [[alpha].sub.0] = 0.05, only those tests having p values smaller than [[alpha].sub.Walker] = 0.000513 would be regarded as significant according to this criterion.
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To test the hypotheses, non-parametric statistical method namely, chi-square was used and the rejection level for zero hypotheses of the study was assumed at 5 percent.
A Bayesian may counter this by pointing out that science routinely interprets new data in the light of prior confidence in hypotheses. Carl Sagan's famous aphorism, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", is a pithy statement of this principle.
The US NIH requires hypotheses for most of its grant applications (17-19).
Bonett and Wright (2007) classify tests of hypotheses into
Some of the investigations carried out in the AL Biology course involve the formulation and testing of hypotheses. For example, in order to find out 'Why bananas become sweet after storing for a few days?' students have first to suggest a hypothesis, or a tentative explanation, and then design an investigation to test it.
The identification of correct functional hypotheses is negatively correlated with the order in which Helen appears (rs = -.45, p = .05, l-tailed).
A principle strategy for all investigations is to constantly create and test hypotheses. When the evidence has been collected and analyzed, hypotheses (working or final) must be tested.
Of greater import is the requirement that hypotheses are stated a priori.
It has long been known that solvers are strategic in selecting hypotheses to play (Best, 1990; Larsen & Garn, 1988; Laughlin, Lange, & Adamopoulos, 1982).
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