Theory Assessment Outcomes (Patton-Overgaard-Barseghyan-2017)

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This is an answer to the question Theory Assessment Outcomes that states "The possible outcomes of theory assessment are satisfied, not satisfied, and inconclusive."

This version of Theory Assessment Outcomes was formulated by Nicholas Overgaard, Hakob Barseghyan and Paul Patton in 2017.1 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
Scientonomy29 November 2017The law became accepted as a result of the acceptance of the respective suggested modification.Yes

Suggestions To Accept

Here are all the modifications where the acceptance of this theory has been suggested:

Modification Community Date Suggested Summary Verdict Verdict Rationale Date Assessed
Sciento-2017-0004 Scientonomy 5 February 2017 Accept the reformulation of the second law which explicitly links theory assessment outcomes with theory acceptance/unacceptance. To that end, accept three new definitions for theory assessment outcomes (satisfied, not satisfied, and inconclusive) as well as the new ontology of theory assessment outcomes, and accept the new definition of employed method. Accepted The new formulation of the law became accepted as a result of a communal consensus. It was noted by the commentators that the "modification provides a much improved formulation of the 2nd law".c1 It was noted that the new formulation "decouples the method from acceptance outcomes" and "is needed to avoid a contradiction for cases where assessment by the method is inconclusive, but the theory is accepted".c2 It was agreed that the new law eliminates two of the major flaws of the previous formulation. First, it clearly states the relations between different assessment outcomes and the actual theory acceptance/unacceptance. Second, it clearly forbids certain conceivable courses of events and, thus, doesn't sounds like a tautology.c3 29 November 2017

Question Answered

Theory Assessment Outcomes (Patton-Overgaard-Barseghyan-2017) is an attempt to answer the following question: What outcomes can possibly obtain as a result of an assessment of a theory by a method? What is the complete list of theory assessment outcomes?

See Theory Assessment Outcomes for more details.


According to this ontology of theory assessment outcomes, when a theory is assessed by a method, one of the three following outcomes can obtain:2p. 199

  • Satisfied: the theory is deemed to conclusively meet the requirements of the method employed at the time.
  • Not Satisfied: the theory is deemed to conclusively not meet the requirements of the method employed at the time.
  • Inconclusive: it is unclear whether or not the requirements of the method employed at the time are met.

While the first two assessment outcomes are conclusive, the third outcome is inconclusive, as it permits more than one possible course of action. Thus, in this view, a theory's assessment outcome is not necessarily conclusive; an inconclusive outcome is also conceivable.

This ontology is assumed by the second law of scientific change as formulated by Patton, Overgaard, and Barseghyan in 2017.


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  1. ^  Patton, Paul; Overgaard, Nicholas and Barseghyan, Hakob. (2017) Reformulating the Second Law. Scientonomy 1, 29-39. Retrieved from
  2. ^  Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.