Underdetermination of theories by evidence thesis


Is it in the fundamental hypothesis that light consists in projectiles thrown out with great speed by luminous bodies? Readings in the Philosophy of Science: 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.

But the Duhem-Quine thesis does not create a similar problem to an inductivist.

A similar response has been advocated by modern anti-realists. Underdetermination — Britannica Online Encyclopedia nbsp; philosophy of science, Underdetermination, Britannica Online Encyclopedia, The complexities of the notion of falsification, originally diagnosed by Duhem, had considerable impact on contemporary philosophy of sof science through the work of the American philosopher WQuine proposed a general thesis of the underdetermination of theory by evidence, arguing that it is alwaysface of any evidence.

It does make sense to say that there can be distinct but totally empirically equivalent theories. In science, it is often hard to come by just one totally empirically adequate theory, much less a bunch of them. An infinite number of false theories that are empirically equivalent to one true theory could each predict different results sometime in the unobserved past, and since these theories all transcend experience, the scientist cannot know if his theory is part of the infinite number of false theories or the one true theory.


For anyone who does not subscribe to a verificationist criterion of meaning, this move is moot. Stanford argues that a convincing case for contrastive underdetermination of this recurrent, transient variety can indeed be made, and that the evidence for it is available in the historical record of scientific inquiry itself.

Although they concede that we could have good reason to think that particular theories have empirically equivalent rivals, this must be established case-by-case rather than by any general argument or presumption. There are enough reasons available for the claim that belief in theory can be justified even if the theory is not Underdetermination of theories by evidence thesis by the evidence: Hume felt it was unanswerable, but observed that it was in practice impossible to accept its conclusions.

The strong version of the thesis along this dimension instead asserts that it is always normatively or rationally defensible to retain any hypothesis in the light of any evidence whatsoever, but this latter, stronger version of the claim, Laudan suggests, is one for which no convincing evidence or argument has ever been offered.

Empirical Equivalence It is commonly argued that there can be totally empirically equivalent theories—that is, theories that entail exactly the same observational consequences under any circumstances.

Topics by nbsp; Scientific Realism Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy nbsp; Debates about scientific realism are centrally connected to almost everything else in the philosophy of science, for they concern the very nature of scientific knowledge.

So it seems that Duhem was right to suggest not only that hypotheses must be tested as a group or a collection, but also that it is by no means a foregone conclusion which member of such a collection should be abandoned or revised in response to a failed empirical test or false implication.

EET is an entry point for the epistemic thesis of total underdetermination: One such argument proceeds as follows: But let us admit for a moment that in each of these systems [concerning the nature of light] everything is compelled to be necessary by strict logic, except a single hypothesis; consequently, let us admit that the facts, in condemning one of the two systems, condemn once and for all the single doubtful assumption it contains.

Nelson integrating textual evidence: All the available observational evidence for such entities underdetermines the claims of a scientific theory about such entities. Topics by nbsp; works clearinghouse evidence: Oxford University Press,6. The first premise makes the claim that a theory is underdetermined.

Underdetermination of Scientific Theory

As part of his famous critique of the widely accepted distinction between truths that are analytic true by definition, or as a matter of logic or language alone and those that are synthetic true Underdetermination of theories by evidence thesis virtue of some contingent fact about the way the world isQuine argued instead that all of the beliefs we hold at any given time are linked in an interconnected web, which encounters our sensory experience only at its periphery: No particular experiences are linked with any particular statements in the interior of the field, except indirectly through considerations of equilibrium affecting the field as a whole.

Stanfordsuggests that these efforts to prove that all our theories must have empirical equivalents fall roughly but reliably into global and local varieties, and that neither makes a convincing case for a distinctive scientific problem of contrastive underdetermination.

Standingalone, the underdetermination argumentover the theory-ladenness of observationstatus as evidence for a theorybeing tested by those observationsneutrality thesis is false Evidence Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy nbsp; For my own part, I think that if one were looking for a single phrase to capture the stage to which philosophy has progressed, the study of evidence would be a better choice than the study of language.

Particular responses to this argument attack both the first and the second premise 1 and 2. Topics by nbsp; Note: The first capitalizes on the fact that no evidence can affect the probability of the theory unless the theory is assigned some nonzero initial probability. A fairly standard reply to this line of argument is to suggest that what Laudan and Leplin really show is that the notion of empirical equivalence must be applied to larger collections of beliefs than those traditionally identified as scientific theories—at least large enough to encompass the auxiliary assumptions needed to derive empirical predictions from them.

Moreover, claims of underdetermination of either of these two fundamental varieties can vary in strength and character in any number of further ways: A total denial of the legitimacy of any prior probabilities would amount to inductive skepticism.

Hence, it does not deny that the evidence can confirm or render probable observational theories. In any case, according to recent externalist-reliabilist theories of justification, belief in theory is justified if induction is reliable; and there is no argument that it is not.

This is the underdetermination thesis. Helmholtz [2] Arguments involving underdetermination[ edit ] Arguments involving underdetermination attempt to show that there is no reason to believe some conclusion because it is underdetermined by the evidence.

If one considers such statements to be illegitimate, e. Quine recognized, of course, that many of the logically possible ways of revising our beliefs in response to recalcitrant experiences that remain open to us strike us as ad hoc, perfectly ridiculous, or worse.

And in the middle of the 20th Century, W. This situation is particularly unfortunate, but one may respond that the ensued underdetermination is local rather than global; hence the possible skepticism that follows is local. Notes to Underdetermination of Scientific Theory 1.Underdetermination and evidence.

To show that a conclusion is underdetermined, one must show that there is a rival conclusion that is equally well supported by the standards of evidence.

contrived, it may be very hard to procure the requisite evidence.


The underdetermination thesis is much stronger. It asserts that in all cases, no matter how long and ingeniously evidence collection may proceed, the underdetermination will persist.

(Merely) Sporadic underdetermination. The thesis does not merely assert that there can arise cases, either contrived or natural, in which some part of a theory. UNDERDETERMINATION THESIS, DUHEM-QUINE THESIS. Underdetermination is a relation between evidence and theory.

More accurately, it is a relation between the propositions that express the (relevant) evidence and the propositions that constitute the theory. Helping you include authors from under-represented groups in your teaching. the underdetermination thesis What role can experimental evidence play in the acceptance of new scientific theories and in the reaffirmation of old theories?

philosophy of science:: Underdetermination — Britannica Online Encyclopedia nbsp; philosophy of science, Underdetermination, Britannica Online Encyclopedia, The complexities of the notion of falsification, originally diagnosed by Duhem, had considerable impact on contemporary philosophy of sof science through the work of the American philosopher WQuine proposed a general thesis of the.

Underdetermination of theories by evidence thesis
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