Underdetermination thesis

No scientist can know, not with certainty, not with any warrant, not with any probability, that a theory T is true. Moreover, claims of underdetermination of either of these two fundamental varieties can vary in strength and character in any number of further ways: This is the " epistemological problem of the indeterminacy of data to theory".

All of these theories make all and only the same empirical predictions, so no evidence will ever permit us to decide between them on empirical grounds. He argues that worries about underdetermination are an aspect of the more general question of the reliability of our inductive methods for determining beliefs, and notes that we cannot decide how serious a problem underdetermination poses without specifying as Laudan and Leplin do not the inductive methods we are considering.

Columbia University Press, pp. Therefore, there is no evidence for believing what scientific theories say about such entities.


Laudan is certainly right to distinguish these various versions of holist underdetermination, and he Underdetermination thesis equally right to suggest that many of the thinkers he confronts have derived grand morals concerning the scientific enterprise from much stronger versions of underdetermination than they are able to defend, but the underlying situation is somewhat more complex than he suggests.

This is not an unsolvable problem. And Goethe's insight is surprisingly significant, because he correctly claimed that all of the results of Newton's prism experiments fit a theoretical alternative equally well. All the available evidence of a certain type underdetermines which of several rival conclusions is correct.

Therefore, for any theory that transcends experience, scientists cannot know whether or not it is false about unobserved phenomena. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. Thus, Quine saw the traditional distinction between analytic and synthetic beliefs as simply registering the endpoints of a psychological continuum ordering our beliefs according to the ease and likelihood with which we are prepared to revise them in order to reconcile the web as a whole with our sense experience.

On both accounts, then, our response to recalcitrant evidence or a failed prediction is constrained in important ways by preexisting features of the existing web of beliefs, but for Quine the continuing force of these constraints is ultimately imposed by the fundamental principles of human psychology such as our preference for minimal mutilation of the web, or the pragmatic virtues of simplicity, fecundity, etc.

Holist underdetermination Section 2 below arises whenever our inability to test hypotheses in isolation leaves us underdetermined in our response to a failed prediction or some other piece of disconfirming evidence.


To belabor this conclusion again: The second type of argument rests on the claim that theories that purport to refer to unobservable entities are, somehow, unconfirmable. EET has generated much philosophical discussion. The only reason for believing that the laws of motion will remain in operation is that they have operated hitherto, so far as our knowledge of the past enables us to judge.

Scientific Realism

As we will see in Section 2. One such reaction has been to invite more careful attention to the details of particular examples of putative underdetermination: Is it in the fundamental hypothesis that light consists in projectiles thrown out with great speed by luminous bodies?

For this reason, Duhem argues, when an empirical prediction turns out to be falsified, we do not know whether the fault lies with the hypothesis we originally sought to test or with one of the many other beliefs and hypotheses that were also needed and used to generate the failed prediction: This is the " epistemological problem of the indeterminacy of data to theory".

The interesting doubt is as to whether the laws of motion will remain in operation until tomorrow.Scott Soames argues that interpreted in the light of Quine’s holistic verificationism, Quine’s thesis of underdetermination leads to a contradiction.

It is contended here that if we pay proper attention to the evolution of Quine’s thinking on the subject, particularly his criterion of theory individuation, Quine’s thesis of underdetermination escapes. Debates about scientific realism are closely connected to almost everything else in the philosophy of science, for they concern the very nature of scientific knowledge.

the second emphasizes an ontological thesis. The epistemic view holds that our best theories likely do not correctly describe the natures of unobservable entities, but do. In the philosophy of science, underdetermination refers to situations where the evidence available is insufficient to identify which belief one should hold about that evidence.

For example, if all that was known was that exactly $10 was spent on apples and oranges, and that apples cost $1 and oranges $2, then one would know enough to eliminate.


Demystifying Underdetermination. by Larry Laudan. Introduction. The "thesis of underdetermination" has been seen as having many consequences: Theories are so radically underdetermined by data that a scientist. EVOLUTION OF QUINE’STHINKINGON THE THESIS OF UNDERDETERMINATION AND SCOTT SOAMES’S ACCUSATION OF PARADOXICALITY M.

Ashraf Adeel Scott Soames argues that interpreted in the light of Quine’s holistic verificationism. the underdetermination thesis What role can experimental evidence play in the acceptance of new scientific theories and in the reaffirmation of old theories?

Underdetermination thesis
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