The Second Law is Not a Tautology (Patton-Overgaard-Barseghyan-2017)

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An attempt to answer the question of Tautological Status of the Second Law which states "The second law is not a tautology."

The Second Law is Not a Tautology was formulated by Nicholas Overgaard, Hakob Barseghyan and Paul Patton in 2017.1 It is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available theory on the subject.


The notion that satisfaction of an employed method's assessment criteria causes the acceptance of a theory has ancient roots. For Aristotle, absolute certainty and thus theory acceptance could be ascribed to propositions that satisfied certain logical and axiomatic clauses first laid out in Aristotle’s Prior and Posterior Analytics as well as the Organon.2 Following Aristotle, these ideas were perpetuated and refined by medieval thinkers like Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, William of Ockham, Andreas Vesalius, and Giacomo Zabarella. They developed accounts of the acquisition of knowledge through observation and induction and rules for the justification and application of induction.2 Thinkers from the Scientific Revolution modified the Aristotelian-Medieval causal connection between theory assessment and theory acceptance. Isaac Newton’s method for theory assessment prescribed an inductivist acceptance criteria for theories. He proposed implicit methods for experimentation and reasoning in the Opticks as well as explicit methodological rules for philosophizing in the Principia Mathematica. His divergence from the Medievalists consisted in a prioritization of inference from observation of phenomena rather than first principles. Following Newton and like-minded inductivists such as Francis Bacon, attempts to connect methods for theory assessment and the outcomes of those assessments on theory acceptance were ahistorical and philosophically absolute in nature. These include logical construction and operationalism, hypothetico-deductivism, falsificationism, meta-methodology, and statistical methods.2 The conditionalization of theory acceptance on the outcomes of a community's employed methods took a historical turn in the 20th century. Pioneers who drew attention to the historical dimension of methods in relation to theory assessment and acceptance included like Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, Imre Lakatos, Dudley Shapere, Larry Laudan, Ernan McMullin,2 and Michel Foucault.3


Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of The Second Law is Not a Tautology (Patton-Overgaard-Barseghyan-2017):
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy29 November 2017The proposition 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:
ModificationCommunityDate SuggestedSummaryVerdictVerdict RationaleDate Assessed
Sciento-2017-0005Scientonomy5 February 2017Accept that the new second law is not a tautology.AcceptedThe modification was deemed uncontroversial by the community. Its acceptance was contingent upon the acceptance of the new formulation of the second law suggested by Patton, Overgaard and Barseghyan. Once the new second law became accepted, it was also accepted that the new law is not a tautology. There was no notable discussion concerning this modification.29 November 2017

Question Answered

The Second Law is Not a Tautology (Patton-Overgaard-Barseghyan-2017) is an attempt to answer the following question: Is the second law a tautology, i.e. can it in principle be violated?

See Tautological Status of the Second Law for more details.


The reformulation of the second law by Patton, Overgaard, and Barseghyan makes it explicit that the law is not a tautology as it clearly forbids certain logically conceivable courses of events.1pp. 33-34


  1. a b  Patton, Paul; Overgaard, Nicholas and Barseghyan, Hakob. (2017) Reformulating the Second Law. Scientonomy 1, 29-39. Retrieved from
  2. a b c d  Andersen, Hanne and Hepburn, Brian. (2015) Scientific Method. In Zalta (Ed.) (2016). Retrieved from
  3. ^  Nickles, Thomas. (2017) Historicist Theories of Scientific Rationality. In Zalta (Ed.) (2017). Retrieved from