The No Alternatives Argument

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (1):213-234 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Scientific theories are hard to find, and once scientists have found a theory, H, they often believe that there are not many distinct alternatives to H. But is this belief justified? What should scientists believe about the number of alternatives to H, and how should they change these beliefs in the light of new evidence? These are some of the questions that we will address in this article. We also ask under which conditions failure to find an alternative to H confirms the theory in question. This kind of reasoning is frequently used in science and therefore deserves a careful philosophical analysis. 1 Introduction2 The Conceptual Framework3 The No Alternatives Argument4 Discussion I: A Quantitative Analysis of the No Alternatives Argument5 Discussion II: The Number of Alternatives and the Problem of Underdetermination6 ConclusionsAppendix AAppendix B



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,377

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

168 (#96,094)

6 months
5 (#191,693)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Jan Sprenger
University of Turin
Richard Dawid
Stockholm University
Stephan Hartmann
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

Citations of this work

Bayesian Philosophy of Science.Jan Sprenger & Stephan Hartmann - 2019 - Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
Scientific Realism and Empirical Confirmation: a Puzzle.Simon Allzén - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 90:153-159.
On the very idea of pursuitworthiness.Jamie Shaw - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 91 (C):103-112.

View all 51 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Scientific reasoning: the Bayesian approach.Peter Urbach & Colin Howson - 1993 - Chicago: Open Court. Edited by Peter Urbach.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1991 - London and New York: Routledge.
Bayesian Epistemology.Luc Bovens & Stephan Hartmann - 2003 - Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edited by Stephan Hartmann.
The Scientific Image by Bas C. van Fraassen. [REVIEW]Michael Friedman - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (5):274-283.

View all 22 references / Add more references