Error Rejection by Replacement (Machado-Marques-Patton-2021)

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This is an answer to the question Mechanism of Error Rejection that states "The handling of instances of scientific error is consistent with the theory rejection theorem; it involves a replacement of an erroneously accepted theory either with a first- or second-order proposition."

Error Handling by Replacement was formulated by Paul Patton and Sarah Machado-Marques in 2021.1 It is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available answer to the question.

Scientonomic History

Acceptance Record

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CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy8 October 2021The theory became accepted as a result of the acceptance of the respective suggested modification.Yes

Suggestions To Accept

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Modification Community Date Suggested Summary Verdict Verdict Rationale Date Assessed
Sciento-2021-0004 Scientonomy 1 August 2021 Accept that the handling of scientific error, as defined by Machado-Marques and Patton, is compatible with the theory rejection theorem. Accepted The commentators agreed that "the historical cases of scientific error identified and treated by Machado-Marques and Patton effectively demonstrate the compatibility of instances of scientific error with the theory rejection theorem".c1 c2 c3 It was agreed that the rejection of a theory that was accepted erroneously can be "a result of the acceptance of other theories incompatible with it - be these some first- or second-order theories".c4 c5 c6 One commentator expressed a common opinion when saying that "the authors are able to put to rest concerns about the handling of scientific error potentially contravening the theory rejection theorem".c7 8 October 2021

Question Answered

Error Rejection by Replacement (Machado-Marques-Patton-2021) is an attempt to answer the following question: When epistemic agent discover that a theory was accepted erroneously, they often reject the theory; the theory rejection theorem suggests that those propositions are replaced by something. What are they replaced by?

See Mechanism of Error Rejection for more details.


The analysis of several several instances of scientific error by Machado-Marques and Patton suggest that the handling of these instances by scientists is in accord with the theory rejection theorem. Handling of error involves, according to this view, not only a rejection of some of the propositions that are considered to be accepted erroneously but also an acceptance of some new propositions. In some cases, an erroneously accepted first-order proposition is replaced by another first-order proposition incompatible with it. In other cases, an erroneously accepted first-order proposition is replaced by a second-order proposition stating the lack of sufficient reason for accepting the first-order proposition. According to this view, the handling of erroneously accepted theories involves their replacement with other theories; the handling of scientific error is therefore in full accord with the theory rejection theorem.


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  1. ^  Machado-Marques, Sarah and Patton, Paul. (2021) Scientific Error and Error Handling. Scientonomy 4, 21-39. Retrieved from