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  1. Another Look at Empirical Equivalence and Underdetermination of Theory Choice.Pablo Acuña & Dennis Dieks - 2014 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 4 (2):153-180.
    In 1991 Larry Laudan and Jarret Leplin proposed a solution for the problem of empirical equivalence and the empirical underdetermination that is often thought to result from it. In this paper we argue that, even though Laudan and Leplin’s reasoning is essentially correct, their solution should be accurately assessed in order to appreciate its nature and scope. Indeed, Laudan and Leplin’s analysis does not succeed in completely removing the problem or, as they put it, in refuting the thesis of underdetermination (...)
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  2. Strong Underdetermination of Theories by Data: The Case of Different Mathematical Formulations of a Scientific Theory.Vincent Ardourel - unknown
  3. THE PRINCIPLE OF ECONOMY AS AN EVALUATION CRITERION OF THEORIES. A CASE EXAMPLE: THE DYNAMIC UNIVERSE VS. PHYSICS AND COSMOLOGY BASED ON GENERAL RELATIVITY.Styrman Avril - 2014 - In Tuomo Suntola & Avril Styrman (eds.), SCIENTIFIC MODELS AND A COMPREHENSIVE PICTURE OF REALITY. La Nuova Critica. Volume 63-64. Publication year is officially set on 2014, but the issue was released on 2016. The general editor of the journal is Arturo Carsetti. Rome: La Nuova Critica. pp. 63-89.
    The principle of economy favours the theory which gives the most accurate predictions; of two equally accurate theories, economy favours the one which incorporates least metaphysics. The intention is to show that were metaphysical commitments of theories openly acknowledged and simplicity and other virtues generally accepted as judges in theory choice, the progress rate of science would likely become more optimal.
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  4. How to Undermine Underdetermination?Prasanta S. Bandyopadhyay, John G. Bennett & Megan D. Higgs - 2015 - Foundations of Science 20 (2):107-127.
    The underdetermination thesis poses a threat to rational choice of scientific theories. We discuss two arguments for the thesis. One draws its strength from deductivism together with the existence thesis, and the other is defended on the basis of the failure of a reliable inductive method. We adopt a partially subjective/objective pragmatic Bayesian epistemology of science framework, and reject both arguments for the thesis. Thus, in science we are able to reinstate rational choice called into question by the underdetermination thesis.
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  5. The Many Faces of Underdetermination.Sorin Bangu - 2011 - Metascience 20 (1):169-171.
  6. Underdetermination, Realism, and Theory Appraisal: An Epistemological Reflection on Quantum Mechanics. [REVIEW]Darrin W. Belousek - 2005 - Foundations of Physics 35 (4):669-695.
    This paper examines the epistemological significance of the present situation of underdetermination in quantum mechanics. After analyzing this underdetermination at three levels---formal, ontological, and methodological---the paper considers implications for a number of variants of the thesis of scientific realism in fundamental physics and reassesses Lakatos‘ characterization of progress in physical theory in light of the present situation. Next, this paper considers the implications of underdetermination for Weinberg’s ‘‘dream of a final theory.’’ Finally, the paper concludes by suggesting how one might (...)
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  7. Realism, Underdetermination, and a Causal Theory of Evidence.Richard N. Boyd - 1973 - Noûs 7 (1):1-12.
  8. Towards a Theory of Theoretical Objects.Gordon G. Brittan Jr - 1986 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:384 - 393.
    Traditional accounts stress certain features of theoretical objects such as their alleged imperceptibility, that are taken to raise epistemological difficulties. But these accounts do not show how theoretical objects, rightly understood, either differ in kind from more ordinary sorts of objects or make science possible. I sketch a new account that focuses on the underdetermination and similarity of theoretical objects, features closely connected to the explanatory roles they play, and construes them on an algebraic model.
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  9. Underdetermination and Rational Choice of Theories.Jacob Busch - 2009 - Philosophia 37 (1):55-65.
    The underdetermination of theory by data argument (UD) is traditionally construed as an argument that tells us that we ought to favour an anti-realist position over a realist position. I argue that when UD is constructed as an argument saying that theory choice is to proceed between theories that are empirically equivalent and adequate to the phenomena up until now, the argument will not favour constructive empiricism over realism. A constructive empiricist cannot account for why scientists are reasonable in expecting (...)
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  10. No New Miracles, Same Old Tricks.Jacob Busch - 2008 - Theoria 74 (2):102-114.
    Abstract: Laudan (1984) distinguishes between two senses of success for scientific theories: (i) that a particular theory is successful, and (ii) that the methods for picking out approximately true theories are successful. These two senses of success are reflected in two different ways that the no miracles argument for scientific realism (NMA) may be set out. First, I set out a (traditional) version of NMA that considers the success of particular theories. I then consider a more recent formulation of NMA (...)
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  11. Truth May Not Explain Predictive Success, but Truthlikeness Does.Gustavo Cevolani & Luca Tambolo - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (4):590-593.
    In a recent paper entitled “Truth does not explain predictive success” , Carsten Held argues that the so-called “No-Miracles Argument” for scientific realism is easily refuted when the consequences of the underdetermination of theories by the evidence are taken into account. We contend that the No-Miracles Argument, when it is deployed within the context of sophisticated versions of realism, based on the notion of truthlikeness , survives Held’s criticism unscathed.
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  12. What You Don’T Know Can’T Hurt You: Realism and the Unconceived.Anjan Chakravartty - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 137 (1):149-158.
    Two of the most potent challenges faced by scientific realism are the underdetermination of theories by data, and the pessimistic induction based on theories previously held to be true, but subsequently acknowledged as false. Recently, Stanford (2006, Exceeding our grasp: Science, history, and the problem of unconceived alternatives. Oxford: Oxford University Press) has formulated what he calls the problem of unconceived alternatives: a version of the underdetermination thesis combined with a historical argument of the same form as the pessimistic induction. (...)
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  13. An Empirical Route to Logical 'Conventionalism'.Eugene Chua - 2017 - In Alexandru Baltag, Jeremy Seligman & Tomoyuki Yamada (eds.), Logic, Rationality, and Interaction. LORI 2017. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10455. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. pp. 631-636.
    The laws of classical logic are taken to be logical truths, which in turn are taken to hold objectively. However, we might question our faith in these truths: why are they true? One general approach, proposed by Putnam [8] and more recently Dickson [3] or Maddy [5], is to adopt empiricism about logic. On this view, logical truths are true because they are true of the world alone – this gives logical truths an air of objectivity. Putnam and Dickson both (...)
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  14. Realism and the Underdetermination of Theory.F. John Clendinnen - 1989 - Synthese 81 (1):63 - 90.
    The main theme is that theorizing serves empirical prediction. This is used as the core of a counter to contemporary anti-realist arguments. Different versions of the thesis that data underdetermines theory are identified and it is shown that none which are acceptable differentiates between theory selection and prediction. Criteria sufficient for the former are included amongst those necessary for the latter; and obviously go beyond mere compatibility with data.Special attention is given to causal process theories. It is argued that the (...)
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  15. Realism and Underdetermination: Some Clues From the Practices-Up.Alberto Cordero - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (S3):S301-S312.
    Recent attempts to turn Standard Quantum Theory into a coherent representational system have improved markedly over previous offerings. Important questions about the nature of material systems remain open, however, as current theorizing effectively resolves into a multiplicity of incompatible statements about the nature of physical systems. Specifically, the most cogent proposals to date land in effective empirical equivalence, reviving old anti-realist fears about quantum physics. In this paper such fears are discussed and found unsound. It is argued that nothing of (...)
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  16. The Determination of Physical Theory.Thomas Virgil Cuda - 1990 - Dissertation, University of Southern California
    It is argued that the concept of observational equivalence can be made coherent, and that observationally equivalent theories can be theoretically incompatible. However, it is also argued that observationally equivalent, theoretically incompatible theories are difficult to generate in a way that leaves even a prima facie epistemological problem, for they will usually involve superfluous expansions. An account, involving a discussion of scientific realism, is given as to why superfluous expansions are not epistemolgically troublesome. Furthermore, a method is given that allows (...)
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  17. Delimiting the Unconceived.Richard Dawid - 2018 - Foundations of Physics 48 (5):492-506.
    It has been argued in Dawid that physicists at times generate substantial trust in an empirically unconfirmed theory based on observations that lie beyond the theory’s intended domain. A crucial role in the reconstruction of this argument of “non-empirical confirmation” is played by limitations to scientific underdetermination. The present paper discusses the question as to how generic the role of limitations to scientific underdetermination really is. It is argued that assessing such limitations is essential for generating trust in any theory’s (...)
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  18. Contrast, Inference and Scientific Realism.Mark Day & George Botterill - 2008 - Synthese 160 (2):249-267.
    The thesis of underdetermination presents a major obstacle to the epistemological claims of scientific realism. That thesis is regularly assumed in the philosophy of science, but is puzzlingly at odds with the actual history of science, in which empirically adequate theories are thin on the ground. We propose to advance a case for scientific realism which concentrates on the process of scientific reasoning rather than its theoretical products. Developing an account of causal–explanatory inference will make it easier to resist the (...)
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  19. The Light at the End of the Tunneling: Observation and Underdetermination.Michael Dickson - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (3):58.
    If observation is 'theory-laden', how can there be 'observationally equivalent theories'? How can the observations 'laden' by one theory be 'the same as' those 'laden' by another? The answer might lie in the expressibility of observationally equivalent theories in a common mathematical formalism.
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  20. Earman on Underdetermination and Empirical Indistinguishability.Igor Douven & Leon Horsten - 1998 - Erkenntnis 49 (3):303-320.
    Earman (1993) distinguishes three notions of empirical indistinguishability and offers a rigorous framework to investigate how each of these notions relates to the problem of underdetermination of theory choice. He uses some of the results obtained in this framework to argue for a version of scientific anti- realism. In the present paper we first criticize Earman's arguments for that position. Secondly, we propose and motivate a modification of Earman's framework and establish several results concerning some of the notions of indistinguishability (...)
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  21. Underdetermination, Realism, and Reason.John Earman - 1993 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 18 (1):19-38.
  22. Scientific Realism and the History of Science.Michael Esfeld - 2005 - Philosophy 1:1-15.
    The paper considers the two main challenges to scientific realism, stemming from confirmation holism and the underdetermination thesis as well as from semantic holism and the incommensurability thesis. Against the first challenge, it is argued that there are other criteria besides agreement with experience that enable a rational evaluation of competing theories. Against the second challenge, it is argued that at most a thesis of local incommensurability can be defended that is compatible with a minimal version of scientific realism, namely (...)
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  23. Metaphysical Underdetermination: Why Worry?Steven French - 2011 - Synthese 180 (2):205 - 221.
    Various forms of underdetermination that might threaten the realist stance are examined. That which holds between different 'formulations' of a theory (such as the Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formulations of classical mechanics) is considered in some detail, as is the 'metaphysical' underdetermination invoked to support 'ontic structural realism'. The problematic roles of heuristic fruitfulness and surplus structure in attempts to break these forms of underdetermination are discussed and an approach emphasizing the relevant structural commonalities is defended.
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  24. Holism, Underdetermination, and the Dynamics of Empirical Theories.Ulrich Gähde - 2002 - Synthese 130 (1):69 - 90.
    The goal of this article is to show that the structuralist approachprovides a powerful framework for the analysis of certain holistic phenomena in empirical theories.We focus on two aspects of holism. The first refers to the involvement of comprehensive complexes of hypothesesin the theoretical treatment of systems regarded in isolation. By contrast, the second refers to thecorrelation between the theoretical descriptions of different systems. It is demonstrated how these two aspectscan be analysed by making use of the structuralist notion of (...)
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  25. A Closer Look at the Underdetermination Thesis and its Use in Debates Concerning Scientific Realism.Orit Gwirceman - 2003 - Dissertation, Rutgers the State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick
    The underdetermination thesis , the claim that every theory has a rival that is equally reasonable to believe given all the possible evidence, is central in the debate between Scientific Realists and Scientific Anti-Realists. We address central arguments on both sides and argue for the truth of a certain version of the thesis. ;Scientific Realists argue that UD is false because the class of facts relative to which the rivals are compared can change in unforeseeable ways because: the class of (...)
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  26. The Semantic View, If Plausible, Is Syntactic.Hans Halvorson - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (3):475-478.
    Halvorson argues that the semantic view of theories leads to absurdities. Glymour shows how to inoculate the semantic view against Halvorson's criticisms, namely by making it into a syntactic view of theories. I argue that this modified semantic-syntactic view cannot do the philosophical work that the original "language-free" semantic view was supposed to do.
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  27. How to Choose Between Empirically Indistinguishable Theories.Paul Horwich - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (2):61-77.
  28. Classical Physics and Early Quantum Theory: A Legitimate Case of Theoretical Underdetermination.Robert G. Hudson - 1997 - Synthese 110 (2):217-256.
    In 1912, Henri Poincaré published an argument which apparently shows that the hypothesis of quanta is both necessary and sufficient for the truth of Planck''s experimentally corroborated law describing the spectral distribution of radiant energy in a black body. In a recent paper, John Norton has reaffirmed the authority of Poincarés argument, setting it up as a paradigm case in which empirical data can be used to definitively rule out theoretical competitors to a given theoretical hypothesis. My goal is to (...)
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  29. Aesthetic Values in Science.Milena Ivanova - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (10):e12433.
    Scientists often use aesthetic values in the evaluation and choice of theories. Aesthetic values are not only regarded as leading to practically more useful theories but are often taken to stand in a special epistemic relation to the truth of a theory such that the aesthetic merit of a theory is evidence of its truth. This paper explores what aesthetic considerations influence scientists' reasoning, how such aesthetic values relate to the utility of a scientific theory, and how one can justify (...)
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  30. Conventionalism About What? Where Duhem and Poincaré Part Ways.Milena Ivanova - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 54:80-89.
    This paper examines whether, and in what contexts, Duhem’s and Poincaré’s views can be regarded as conventionalist or structural realist. After analysing the three different contexts in which conventionalism is attributed to them – in the context of the aim of science, the underdetermination problem and the epistemological status of certain principles – I show that neither Duhem’s nor Poincaré’s arguments can be regarded as conventionalist. I argue that Duhem and Poincaré offer different solutions to the problem of theory choice, (...)
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  31. Theory Choice, Good Sense and Social Consensus.Milena Ivanova & Cedric Paternotte - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (5):1109-1132.
    There has been a significant interest in the recent literature in developing a solution to the problem of theory choice which is both normative and descriptive, but agent-based rather than rule-based, originating from Pierre Duhem’s notion of ‘good sense’. In this paper we present the properties Duhem attributes to good sense in different contexts, before examining its current reconstructions advanced in the literature and their limitations. We propose an alternative account of good sense, seen as promoting social consensus in science, (...)
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  32. Prisoners of Abstraction? The Theory and Measure of Genetic Variation, and the Very Concept of 'Race'.Jonathan Michael Kaplan & Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (1):401-412.
    It is illegitimate to read any ontology about "race" off of biological theory or data. Indeed, the technical meaning of "genetic variation" is fluid, and there is no single theoretical agreed-upon criterion for defining and distinguishing populations (or groups or clusters) given a particular set of genetic variation data. Thus, by analyzing three formal senses of "genetic variation"—diversity, differentiation, and heterozygosity—we argue that the use of biological theory for making epistemic claims about "race" can only seem plausible when it relies (...)
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  33. Does Every Theory Have Empirically Equivalent Rivals?Andre Kukla - 1996 - Erkenntnis 44 (2):137 - 166.
    The instrumentalist argument from the underdetermination of theories by data runs as follows: (1) every theory has empirically equivalent rivals; (2) the only warrant for believing one theory over another is its possession of a greater measure of empirical virtue; (3) therefore belief in any theory is arbitrary. In this paper, I examine the status of the first premise. Several arguments against the universal availability of empirically equivalent theoretical rivals are criticized, and four algorithms for producing empirically equivalent rivals are (...)
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  34. Demystifying Underdetermination.Larry Laudan - 1990 - In C. Wade Savage (ed.), Scientific Theories. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 267-97.
  35. Empirical Equivalence and Underdetermination.Larry Laudan & Jarrett Leplin - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (9):449-472.
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  36. Empirical Equivalence and Underdetermination.Larry Laudan & Jarrett Leplin - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (9):449.
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  37. Duality and Ontology.Baptiste Le Bihan & James Read - forthcoming - Philosophy Compass.
    A ‘duality’ is a formal mapping between the spaces of solutions of two empirically equivalent theories. In recent times, dualities have been found to be pervasive in string theory and quantum field theory. Naïvely interpreted, duality-related theories appear to make very different ontological claims about the world—differing in e.g. space-time structure, fundamental ontology, and mereological structure. In light of this, duality-related theories raise questions familiar from discussions of underdetermination in the philosophy of science: in the presence of dual theories, what (...)
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  38. Teaching & Learning Guide For: Duality and Ontology.Baptiste Le Bihan & James Read - forthcoming - Philosophy Compass.
    Dualities are a pervasive phenomenon in contemporary physics, in which two physical theories are empirically equivalent, yet prima facie make different ontological claims about the world (potentially very different claims—differing in e.g. the number and radius of dimensions of the universe). Dualities thus present a particular instantiation of the well-known notion of underdetermination of theory by evidence. Many different philosophical proposals have been made for how such putative underdetermination might be resolved—this continues to be a programme of active research.
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  39. The Underdetermination of Total Theories.Jarrett Leplin - 1997 - Erkenntnis 47 (2):203-215.
    This paper criticizes the attempt to found the epistemological doctrine that all theories are evidentially underdetermined on the thesis that all theories have empirically equivalent rivals. The criticisms focus on the role of auxiliary hypotheses in prediction. It is argued, in particular, that if auxiliaries are underdetermined, then the thesis of empirical equivalence is undecidable. The inference from empirical equivalence to the underdetermination of total theories would seem to survive the criticisms, because total theories do not require auxiliaries to yield (...)
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  40. Is Structural Underdetermination Possible?Holger Lyre - 2011 - Synthese 180 (2):235 - 247.
    Structural realism is sometimes said to undermine the theory underdetermination (TUD) argument against realism, since, in usual TUD scenarios, the supposed underdetermination concerns the object-like theoretical content but not the structural content. The paper explores the possibility of structural TUD by considering some special cases from modern physics, but also questions the validity of the TUD argument itself. The upshot is that cases of structural TUD cannot be excluded, but that TUD is perhaps not such a terribly serious anti-realistic argument.
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  41. Why Quantum Theory is Possibly Wrong.Holger Lyre - 2010 - Foundations of Physics 40 (9-10):1429-1438.
    Quantum theory is a tremendously successful physical theory, but nevertheless suffers from two serious problems: the measurement problem and the problem of interpretational underdetermination. The latter, however, is largely overlooked as a genuine problem of its own. Both problems concern the doctrine of realism, but pull, quite curiously, into opposite directions. The measurement problem can be captured such that due to scientific realism about quantum theory common sense anti-realism follows, while theory underdetermination usually counts as an argument against scientific realism. (...)
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  42. Reckoning the Shape of Everything: Underdetermination and Cosmotopology.P. D. Magnus - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (3):541-557.
    This paper offers a general characterization of underdetermination and gives a prima facie case for the underdetermination of the topology of the universe. A survey of several philosophical approaches to the problem fails to resolve the issue: the case involves the possibility of massive reduplication, but Strawson on massive reduplication provides no help here; it is not obvious that any of the rival theories are to be preferred on grounds of simplicity; and the usual talk of empirically equivalent theories misses (...)
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  43. Background Theories and Total Science.P. D. Magnus - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1064-1075.
    Background theories in science are used both to prove and to disprove that theory choice is underdetermined by data. The alleged proof appeals to the fact that experiments to decide between theories typically require auxiliary assumptions from other theories. If this generates a kind of underdetermination, it shows that standards of scientific inference are fallible and must be appropriately contextualized. The alleged disproof appeals to the possibility of suitable background theories to show that no theory choice can be timelessly or (...)
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  44. Underdetermination and the Claims of Science.P. D. Magnus - 2003 - Dissertation, University of California, San Diego
    The underdetermination of theory by evidence is supposed to be a reason to rethink science. It is not. Many authors claim that underdetermination has momentous consequences for the status of scientific claims, but such claims are hidden in an umbra of obscurity and a penumbra of equivocation. So many various phenomena pass for `underdetermination' that it's tempting to think that it is no unified phenomenon at all, so I begin by providing a framework within which all these worries can be (...)
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  45. Evidential Holism.Joe Morrison - 2017 - Philosophy Compass (6):e12417.
    Evidential holism begins with something like the claim that “it is only jointly as a theory that scientific statements imply their observable consequences.” This is the holistic claim that Elliott Sober tells us is an “unexceptional observation”. But variations on this “unexceptional” claim feature as a premise in a series of controversial arguments for radical conclusions, such as that there is no analytic or synthetic distinction that the meaning of a sentence cannot be understood without understanding the whole language of (...)
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  46. Must Evidence Underdetermine Theory.John D. Norton - 2003 - The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice:17--44.
    According to the underdetermination thesis, all evidence necessarily underdetermines any scientific theory. Thus it is often argued that our agreement on the content of mature scientific theories must be due to social and other factors. Drawing on a long standing tradition of criticism, I shall argue that the underdetermination thesis is little more than speculation based on an impoverished account of induction. A more careful look at accounts of induction does not support an assured underdetermination or the holism usually associated (...)
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  47. Leplin on the Antirealist Argument for Underdetermination.Samir Okasha - manuscript
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  48. The Underdetermination of Theory by Data and the "Strong Programme" in the Sociology of Knowledge.Samir Okasha - 2000 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 14 (3):283 – 297.
    Advocates of the "strong programme" in the sociology of knowledge have argued that, because scientific theories are "underdetermined" by data, sociological factors must be invoked to explain why scientists believe the theories they do. I examine this argument, and the responses to it by J.R. Brown (1989) and L. Laudan (1996). I distinguish between a number of different versions of the underdetermination thesis, some trivial, some substantive. I show that Brown's and Laudan's attempts to refute the sociologists' argument fail. Nonetheless, (...)
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  49. Explanatory Failures of Relative Realism.Seungbae Park - 2015 - Epistemologia 38 (1):16-28.
    Scientific realism (Putnam 1975; Psillos 1999) and relative realism (Mizrahi 2013) claim that successful scientific theories are approximately true and comparatively true, respectively. A theory is approximately true if and only if it is close to the truth. A theory is comparatively true if and only if it is closer to the truth than its competitors are. I argue that relative realism is more skeptical about the claims of science than it initially appears to be and that it can explain (...)
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  50. Approximate Truth Vs. Empirical Adequacy.Seungbae Park - 2014 - Epistemologia 37 (1):106-118.
    Suppose that scientific realists believe that a successful theory is approximately true, and that constructive empiricists believe that it is empirically adequate. Whose belief is more likely to be false? The problem of underdetermination does not yield an answer to this question one way or the other, but the pessimistic induction does. The pessimistic induction, if correct, indicates that successful theories, both past and current, are empirically inadequate. It is arguable, however, that they are approximately true. Therefore, scientific realists overall (...)
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