Heckscher-Ohlin and the ‘principle of explosion’17 March, 2016 at 12:14 | Posted in Theory of Science & Methodology | 4 Comments
The other day yours truly had a post up on the Heckscher-Ohlin theorem, arguing that since the assumptions on which the theorem build are empirically false, one might, from a methodological point of view, wonder
how we are supposed to evaluate tests of a theorem building on known to be false assumptions. What is the point of such tests? What can those tests possibly teach us? From falsehoods anything logically follows.
Some people have had troubles with the last sentence — from falsehoods anything whatsoever follows.
But that’s really nothing very deep or controversial. What I’m referring to — without going into the intricacies of distinguishing between ‘false,’ ‘inconsistent’ and ‘self-contradictory’ statements — is the well-known ‘principle of explosion,’ according to which if both a statement and its negation are considered true, any statement whatsoever can be inferred.
Whilst tautologies, purely existential statements and other nonfalsiﬁable statements assert, as it were, too little about the class of possible basic statements, self-contradictory statements assert too much. From a self-contradictory statement, any statement whatsoever can be validly deduced. Consequently, the class of its potential falsiﬁers is identical with that of all possible basic statements: it is falsiﬁed by any statement whatsoever.