Theory of scientific investigation by Hempel and a case of Semmelweis

J Family Med Prim Care. 2017 Apr-Jun;6(2):198-200. doi: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_61_17.


Carl Gustav Hempel brought our attention to 19th century Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis and his investigations in "systematic discovery" of solution to a "scientific problem." The historical account of Semmelweis provided an impetus for Hempel to ponder upon the role of "induction" in "scientific inquiry." By considering various conjectures, Hempel examined through this case, how a hypothesis once proposed is tested and rejected on the basis of test implication. Somewhere around this account lies the lesson for family practitioners of modern age in how to fight age-old-dogmatic beliefs with simple answers, but the ones that require appreciation from larger academia.

Keywords: Causal inference; hypotheses; theory.