Dissertation, Indiana University (2015)
Empirical multiple determination (multiple determination, for short) is the epistemic strategy of establishing the same result by means of multiple and independent procedures. It is an important epistemic strategy praised by both philosophers of science and practicing scientists. Commentators from different contexts have referred to multiple determination as one of the main strategies that researchers use to establish the reliability of their results. Multiple determination has been used to address a variety of problems that arise because of the fallibility of experimental procedures. It is generally believed that being able to establish the same result (or provide evidence for a hypothesis of interest) by means of different and independent procedures is somewhat ‘‘better’’ than doing the same by a single procedure. Despite the heavy appeal to the multiple determination strategy, however, not much philosophical analysis has been provided regarding the grounds on which its epistemic desirability and virtues rest. Not much has been said regarding the structure and rationale underlying arguments which rely on multiple determination, and there is no general agreement regarding the epistemological import of these arguments.
In my dissertation, I address these issues. More specifically, my dissertation:
a. Provides a conceptual clarification of the epistemic strategy of multiple determination by making evident its differences, in both structure and epistemic import, from other notions and epistemic strategies from which it is often not distinguished in the literature such as robustness, consilience of inductions, variety of evidence, etc.
b. Traces the historical and philosophical roots of multiple determination in the 19th century philosophical discussions and scientific developments. Especially, it makes the claim that the emergence of empirical multiple determination as a distinctive epistemic strategy emerged as a response to the scientific and philosophical difficulties facing the atomic and molecular hypotheses of matter and, more generally, the study of unobservable entities, in the end of the 19th century.
c. Provides a general conceptual framework for understanding the structure and epistemic import of arguments that rely on the application of the multiple determination strategy in actual scientific research.
d. The distinctive feature of my dissertation is that it examines its subject matter from a temporal perspective, by paying close attention to the historical emergence and development of the multiple determination strategy. As such, it also considers the implications of the debates regarding the structure and epistemic import of multiple determination for the relationship between history of science and philosophy of science.