Thus, claims and arguments about the various forms that underdetermination may take, their causes and consequences, and the further significance they hold for the scientific enterprise as a whole continue to evolve in the light of ongoing controversy, and the underdetermination of scientific theory by evidence remains very much a live and unresolved issue in the philosophy of science. Indeed, social constructivists have seized upon this in order to claim that social, political, and ideological factors break observational ties among theories: The problem is supposed to be that since there cannot be direct observational access to unobservable entities, no observational evidence can support the truth of a theory that posits them, and no evidence can support a theory more than others that posit different unobservable entities. History of Physics in Philosophy of Physical Science. Quine would incorporate confirmational holism and its associated concerns about underdetermination into an extraordinarily influential account of knowledge in general. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. Given the above presupposition, it follows that the observational consequences cannot warrant belief in one theory over its rivals.

Philosophy of Language in 20th Century Philosophy. Ultimately, we do not think he properly addresses our most important worries. Jobs in this area. This monographic chapter explains how expected utility EU theory arose in von Neumann and Morgenstern, how it was called into question by Allais and others, and how it gave way to non-EU theories, at least among the specialized quarters of decion theory. Utility in Philosophy of Action. 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. Although the outcome of the experiment was taken to show that light travels faster in air than in water, [ 3 ] Duhem argues that this is far from a refutation of the hypothesis of emission:.

duhem quine thesis underdetermination

Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. This classic work in the philosophy of physical science is an incisive and readable account of the scientific method. More accurately, it is a relation between the propositions that express the relevant evidence and the propositions that constitute the theory.

duhem quine thesis underdetermination

But Bas van Fraassen has offered an extremely influential line of argument intended to show that such contrastive underdetermination is a serious concern for scientific theorizing more generally. Historically, the nature of the connection between these controversies is critically examined with special attention to the claim that the neutralist position is actually the classical position brought up to date.


The principle of clinical equipoise requires that, aside from certain exceptional cases, second generation treatments ought to be tested against standard therapy.

Experimental Economics in Philosophy of Social Science. I show how the ES notions of severe tests and error probabilities can be applied in epistemological analyses of fMRI. And in the middle of the 20 th Century, W. Empirical equivalents create a serious obstacle to belief underdetermnation a theory so long as there is some empirical equivalent to that theory at any given time, but it need not be the same one at underdetermiantion time.

duhem quine thesis underdetermination

His theoretical group embraces all of human knowledge, including mathematics and logic. Such claims, it seems, should simply be excised from the theories themselves, leaving over just the claims that sensible defenders would have held were all we were entitled to believe by the evidence in any case.

underdeterminatlon Quine thesis for experimental economics. And in all of these respects, Laudan claims, partisans have defended only the weaker forms of underdetermination while founding their further claims about and conceptions of the scientific enterprise on versions much stronger than those they have managed or even attempted to defend.

Quine claims that holism i.

Duhem–Quine thesis

The balance is shifted to the theory we our community favor, simply because it is our theory. Briefly put, this thesis starts with the undeniable premise that all theories entail observational consequences only with the help of auxiliary assumptions and concludes that it is always possible that a theory, together with suitable auxiliaries, can accommodate any recalcitrant evidence.

Skepticism, Misc in Epistemology. As we will see in Section 2.

Underdetermination Thesis, Duhem-Quine Thesis |

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.

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. Insofar as explanatory power can offer epistemic credentials to a theory, it can break supposed epistemic ties among totally empirically equivalent rivals.

The second type of argument rests on the claim that theories that purport to refer to unobservable entities are, somehow, unconfirmable. Our argument is basedon a combination of Quine’s holism with VanFraassen’s constructive empiricism, especiallythe latter’s analysis of empirical adequacy andhis pragmatic approach to explanation. Laudan usefully underdstermination a number of different dimensions along which claims of underdetermination vary in strength, and he goes on to insist that those who attribute dramatic significance to the thesis that our scientific theories are underdetermined by the evidence invariably defend only the weaker versions of that thesis, while they go on to draw dire consequences and shocking morals regarding the character and status of the scientific enterprise from much stronger versions.


Proponents of the Strong Programme in the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge believe that these arguments necessitate a sociological analysis of scientific belief. Hence all our knowledge, for Quine, would be epistemologically no different from ancient Greek godswhich were posited in order thesjs account for experience. The more interesting version of inductive underdetermination does underdetremination challenge the need to employ prior probabilities, but rather their epistemic credentials.

I contend that there is a central thesis, which I have dubbed the “Duhem-Popper-Quine thesis,” that is common to the work of these three authors but that in each author’s work it is reflected differently. In other words, Stanford claims that qujne the past we have repeatedly failed to exhaust the space of fundamentally distinct theoretical possibilities that were well confirmed by the existing evidence, and that we have every reason to believe that we are probably underdrtermination failing to exhaust the space of such alternatives that are well confirmed by the evidence we have at present.

History of Physics in Philosophy of Physical Science. 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. The other is to argue for a broad conception of evidence that takes the theoretical virtues to be empirical and contingent marks of truth. Second, I argue that, as I have thesos it, it is true, but not for the reasons often cited.

In sum, it uncerdetermination be said that the underdetermination process accompanying EUT was resolved in a Duhemian way, but this was not without major inefficiencies. In its favor, it can be said that rational belief in theory is not solely a matter of looking for strict observational evidence.