We often talk about the laws of science as having been "proved." The
word "prove" indicates that the truth of the evidence, if it is true, establishes
the truth of those statements which such evidence is said to support.
It has been widely admitted since the time of Hume that in this sense no
empirical evidence about particular observations can ever prove the truth
of a universal statement which extends beyond what is already present
in the empirical evidence. Holders of the empiricist consensus are all
"descendants of Hume" in this respect. Therefore, they can be understood
a relaxing the classical demand for certainty (necessarily true)
and holding that we are rational to believe theoretical statements which
are "well-confirmed" or "corroborated" by the empirical evidence. We express
this by saying that another element of the consensus is a commitment to
"fallibilism," i.e., the view that no statement in science
is ever immune to refutation by some as yet unknown evidence. Fallibilists
reject the view that any theory is ever proved.