Gillies the duhem thesis and the quine thesis

Accordingly, any judgment of empirical equivalence is both defeasible and relativized to a particular state of science. And at least since the influential work of Thomas Kuhn, one important line of thinking about science has held that it is ultimately the social and political interests in a suitably broad sense of scientists themselves which serve to determine their responses to disconfirming evidence and therefore the further empirical, methodological, and other commitments of any given scientist or scientific community.

Hence all our knowledge, for Quine, would be epistemologically no different from ancient Greek godswhich were posited in order to account for experience. It is in this realisation that we can identify a means by which to defend Quine.

underdetermination popper

Magnus, P. Moreover, claims of underdetermination of either of these two fundamental varieties can vary in strength and character in any number of further ways: one might, for example, suggest that the choice between two theories or two ways of revising our beliefs is transiently underdetermined simply by the evidence we happen to have at present, or instead permanently underdetermined by all possible evidence.

Gillies the duhem thesis and the quine thesis

New York, NY: W. For example, Platonists and realists in general do not equate a prioricity with infallibility of knowledge. For this reason, they suggest, such appeals and their success or failure in convincing the members of a given community should be explained by reference to the same broadly social and political interests that they claim are at the root of theory choice and belief change in science more generally see, e. Bibliography Achinstein, P. Laudan wants to commit Quine to the claim that it is rational to remain committed to any theory in the face of any evidence whatever. In a justly celebrated discussion, Larry Laudan argues that the significance of such underdetermination has been greatly exaggerated. Imre Lakatos and Paul Feyerabend each suggested that because of underdetermination, the difference between empirically successful and unsuccessful theories or research programs is largely a function of the differences in talent, creativity, resolve, and resources of those who advocate them. Science and Hypothesis.

As we add further data to our initial set we will definitively eliminate functions describing curves which no longer capture all of the data points in the new, larger set, but no matter how much data we accumulate, the proof guarantees that there will always be an infinite number of functions remaining that define curves including all the data points in the new set and which would therefore seem to be equally well supported by the empirical evidence.

Gillies suggests that low-level generalisations, such as experimental laws or what scientists might call descriptive laws, can be confirmed or disconfirmed through observation.


On a final note, to be fair, it should be noted that the discussion that I have provided is not a complete presentation of the entire underdetermination debate. A conflict with experience at the periphery occasions readjustments in the interior of the field. And as Duhem suggests above, even if we supposed that we somehow knew exactly which of our hypotheses to blame in response to a failed empirical prediction, this would not help us to decide whether or not there are other hypotheses available that are equally well-confirmed by the data we actually have. Hale, Bob. If the electron goes through slit 1 or 2, we do not see any wave interference pattern formed on the screen. For example, one may suggest rejecting beliefs that have no explanatory power, require too complex a web of beliefs, or lack internal consistency. Jerrold Katz also makes his criticisms along this line, that we can establish the existence of those mathematical entities even without empirical science Katz Thus, when we ask if it is rational to choose one web of beliefs over another, we should instead ask whether it is pragmatic to do so assuming of course that our concept of pragmatic is the same in both webs. Compability was obtained in some experiments, but implicitly and somewhat confusingly, for instance by excluding overtly incoherent subjects or by creating strong incentives for the subjects to reflect on the questions and provide answers they would be able to defend. Working through this critical evaluation, I believe that this fuller interpretation of Quine has adequately responded to the criticisms raised by Laudan. Magnus, P. But such possibilities, Stanford argues, amount to nothing more than the sort of Evil Deceiver to which Descartes appealed in order to doubt any of his beliefs that could possibly be doubted see Section 1, above. The Putnam-Quine Theses One of the most controversial aspects of philosophy today is what has to do with the problem of underdetermination in science.

Part of what has contributed to the conflation of these two problems is the holist presuppositions of those who originally made them famous.

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Underdetermination, Logic, Mathematics and Science