Stanford , concludes that no convincing general case has been made for the presumption that there are empirically equivalent rivals to all or most scientific theories, or to any theories besides those for which such equivalents can actually be constructed. R and S are synonymous iff for all sentences T we have that the logical conjunction of R and T is stimulus-synonymous to that of S and T. The point that I hopefully made here is that the basic message of this prescriptive method is as respectful as ever, and, although not the subject of this Pierre Duhem was one of the great figures in French science, a devoted teacher, and a distinguished scholar of the history and philosophy of science. Thus if mathematics is confirmed along with our best empirical hypotheses as indispensability theory claims , there must be mathematics-free competitors. Of course, generating and testing fundamental scientific hypotheses is rarely if ever a matter of finding curves that fit collections of data points, so nothing follows directly from this mathematical analogy for the significance of contrastive underdetermination in most scientific contexts. It is nevertheless a form of antirealism on traditional readings of Peirce and James, since both suggest that truth in the pragmatist sense exhausts our conception of reality, thus running foul of the metaphysical dimension of realism.

The complaint is clear: Now, almost fifty years after the article’s appearance, what are we to make of these ideas? So, if a theory is confirmed by empirical findings, the whole theory is confirmed. Talk of approximate truth is often invoked in this context and has produced a significant amount of often highly technical work, conceptualizing the approximation of truth as something that can be quantified, such that judgments of relative approximate truth of one proposition or theory in comparison to another can be formalized and given precise definitions. In particular, whatever mathematics is made use of in the theory is also confirmed Quine , pp. Life and Works 2.

Perhaps most importantly, in these discussions their attention is confined almost exclusively to versions of what I am calling holist underdetermination.


Others define scientific realism not in terms of truth or reference, but in terms of belief in the ontology of scientific theories. For more details see his The panel, chaired by Lippmann, seems to have made a political decision. Duhem made a xtanford of enduring contributions to thermodynamics and physical chemistry.

Underdetermination of Scientific Theory > Notes (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

And as in the historicist approach, notions such as truth, reference, and ontology are here relative to particular contexts; they have no context-transcendent significance.

Is it in some other assumption concerning the actions experienced by light corpuscles due to the media in which they move?

The notion goes back to a proposal from Grice and Strawson and runs thus: There is then no reason to deny the existence of crucial experiments. This work provides one possible means by which to consider the convergentist claim that theories can be viewed as increasingly approximately true over time, and this possibility is further considered in section 3. One effect of abandoning them is, as Induction and the Justification of BeliefOxford: Fortunately, underlying the many idiosyncratic qualifications and variants of the position, there is a common core of ideas, typified by an epistemically positive attitude toward the outputs of scientific investigation, regarding both observable and unobservable aspects of the world.

Pierre Duhem

And theis the middle of the 20 th Century, W. First version of the paper, without any reference to Duhem, in The Philosophical Review60 For Duhem there is a crucial difference between representing and explaining.

History of Science duhdm General Philosophy of Science. For example, though Psillos Bird, Alexander,Thomas KuhnChesham: 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.

What is it to be Indispensable?

quine duhem thesis stanford

The essay was originally published in Metaphysics and Models 2. The objections that have received the most attention, however, are those due to Hartry Field, Penelope Maddy and Elliott Sober. It is not entirely clear, however, whether the evolutionary analogy is sufficient to dissolve the intuition behind the miracle argument. With respect to the different subjects, meaning holism can be distinguished from holism about confirmation or disconfirmation, about belief-fixation or belief-content, or about interpretation or understanding.


Phenomenology in Continental Philosophy.

Indispensability Arguments in the Philosophy of Mathematics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

His constructive empiricism holds that the aim of science is not to find true theories, but only theories that are empirically adequate: All three of these positions adopt a strategy of selectivity, and this and the positions themselves are considered further in section 2. For further takes on approximate truth, see Leplin ; Boyd ; Weston ; Smith ; Chakravarttyand Northcott If even a few examples from the history of science demonstrate that theories can be empirically successful and yet fail to refer to the central unobservables they invoke, or fail to be what realists would regard as approximately true, this constitutes a prima facie challenge to the notion that only realism can explain the success of science.

Although it is also a form of underdetermination, what we described in Section 1 above as contrastive underdetermination raises fundamentally different issues from the holist variety considered in Section 2 Bonk is a book-length treatment of many of these issues.

quine duhem thesis stanford

For the latter, our language and thought succeed in being about the world because of our acquaintance with objects; the relation of reference-roughly, the relation between a name and its bearer-is thus fundamental. If, conta Quine, scientists do not accept all the entities of our best scientific theories, where does this leave us?

The first premise xuhem thus called into question by undermining its support.