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  1. Darrin W. Belousek (2005). Underdetermination, Realism, and Theory Appraisal: An Epistemological Reflection on Quantum Mechanics. [REVIEW] 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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  2. Richard N. Boyd (1973). Realism, Underdetermination, and a Causal Theory of Evidence. Noûs 7 (1):1-12.
  3. Matthew J. Brown (2014). Values in Science Beyond Underdetermination and Inductive Risk. Philosophy of Science 80 (5):829-839.
    Proponents of the value ladenness of science rely primarily on arguments from underdetermination or inductive risk, which share the premise that we should only consider values where the evidence runs out or leaves uncertainty; they adopt a criterion of lexical priority of evidence over values. The motivation behind lexical priority is to avoid reaching conclusions on the basis of wishful thinking rather than good evidence. This is a real concern, however, that giving lexical priority to evidential considerations over values is (...)
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  4. Grzegorz Bugajak (2009). Philosophy of Nature, Realism, and the Postulated Ontology of Scientific Theories. In Adam Świeżyński (ed.), Philosophy of Nature Today, Wydawnictwo UKSW, Warszawa. 59–80.
    The first part of the paper is a metatheoretical consideration of such philosophy of nature which allows for using scientific results in philosophical analyses. An epistemological 'judgment' of those results becomes a preliminary task of this discipline: this involves taking a position in the controversy between realistic and antirealistic accounts of science. It is shown that a philosopher of nature has to be a realist, if his task to build true ontology of reality is to be achieved. At the same (...)
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  5. Jacob Busch (2009). Underdetermination and Rational Choice of Theories. 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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  6. Jacob Busch (2008). No New Miracles, Same Old Tricks. 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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  7. Anjan Chakravartty (2008). What You Don't Know Can't Hurt You: Realism and the Unconceived. [REVIEW] 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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  8. Richard Dawid, Scientific Prediction and the Underdetermination of Scientific Theory Building.
    According to the no miracles argument, scientific realism provides the only satisfactory explanation of the predictive success of science. It is argued in the present article that a different explanatory strategy, based on the posit of limitations to the underdetermination of scientific theory building by the available empirical data, offers a more convincing understanding of scientific success.
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  9. Mark Day & George S. Botterill (2008). Contrast, Inference and Scientific Realism. 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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  10. Igor Douven & Leon Horsten (1998). Earman on Underdetermination and Empirical Indistinguishability. 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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  11. Michael Esfeld (2005). Scientific Realism and the History of Science. 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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  12. Ulrich Gähde (2002). Holism, Underdetermination, and the Dynamics of Empirical Theories. 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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  13. Peter Godfrey-Smith (2008). Recurrent Transient Underdetermination and the Glass Half Full. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 137 (1):141 - 148.
    Kyle Stanford’s arguments against scientific realism are assessed, with a focus on the underdetermination of theory by evidence. I argue that discussions of underdetermination have neglected a possible symmetry which may ameliorate the situation.
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  14. Dan Hicks (2014). A New Direction for Science and Values. Synthese 191 (14):3271-95.
    The controversy over the old ideal of “value-free science” has cooled significantly over the past decade. Many philosophers of science now agree that even ethical and political values may play a substantial role in all aspects of scientific inquiry. Consequently, in the last few years, work in science and values has become more specific: Which values may influence science, and in which ways? Or, how do we distinguish illegitimate from illegitimate kinds of influence? In this paper, I argue that this (...)
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  15. Robert G. Hudson (1997). Classical Physics and Early Quantum Theory: A Legitimate Case of Theoretical Underdetermination. 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 <span class='Hi'>Norton</span> 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 (...)
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  16. Jarrett Leplin (1997). The Underdetermination of Total Theories. 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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  17. Holger Lyre (2011). Is Structural Underdetermination Possible? 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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  18. P. D. Magnus (2006). What's New About the New Induction? Synthese 148 (2):295 - 301.
    The problem of underdetermination is thought to hold important lessons for philosophy of science. Yet, as Kyle Stanford has recently argued, typical treatments of it offer only restatements of familiar philosophical problems. Following suggestions in Duhem and Sklar, Stanford calls for a New Induction from the history of science. It will provide proof, he thinks, of “the kind of underdetermination that the history of science reveals to be a distinctive and genuine threat to even our best scientific theories” (Stanford 2001, (...)
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  19. P. D. Magnus (2005). Background Theories and Total Science. 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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  20. Ernan McMullin (1995). Underdetermination. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 20 (3):233-252.
    When trying to assess the implications of recent deep shifts in the philosophy of science for the broader arena of medicine, the theme that most readily comes to mind is underdetermination . In scientific research one always hopes for determination: that the world should determine the observations we make of it; that evidence should determine the theories we adopt; that the practice of science should determine results independent of the sort of society in which that practice takes place. In this (...)
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  21. John D. Norton (forthcoming). Must Evidence Underdetermine Theory. 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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  22. Samir Okasha (2000). The Underdetermination of Theory by Data and the "Strong Programme" in the Sociology of Knowledge. 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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  23. Wolfgang Pietsch (2012). Defending Underdetermination or Why the Historical Perspective Makes a Difference. In. In Henk W. de Regt (ed.), Epsa Philosophy of Science: Amsterdam 2009. Springer. 303--313.
  24. Charlotte Werndl (2013). On Choosing Between Deterministic and Indeterministic Models: Underdetermination and Indirect Evidence. Synthese 190 (12):2243-2265.
    There are results which show that measure-theoretic deterministic models and stochastic models are observationally equivalent. Thus there is a choice between a deterministic and an indeterministic model and the question arises: Which model is preferable relative to evidence? If the evidence equally supports both models, there is underdetermination. This paper first distinguishes between different kinds of choice and clarifies the possible resulting types of underdetermination. Then a new answer is presented: the focus is on the choice between a Newtonian deterministic (...)
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  25. Jon Williamson, Intervention, Underdetermination, and Theory Generation.
    We consider the use of intervention data for eliminating the underdetermination in statistical modelling, and for guiding extensions of the statistical models. The leading example is factor analysis, a major statistical tool in the social sciences. We first relate indeterminacy in factor analysis to the problem of underdetermination. Then we draw a parallel between factor analysis models and Bayesian networks with hidden nodes, which allows us to clarify the use of intervention data for dealing with indeterminacy. It will be shown (...)
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  26. John Worrall, 1. Introduction: The 'Threat' to Realism From Underdetermination.
    The appeal of scientific realism is chiefly based on the – staggering – empirical success of the theories currently accepted in science. The realist exhibits some currently accepted scientific theory (the General Theory of Relativity, say), points to its astounding empirical success (with the gravitational redshift, the precession of Mercury’s perihelion, etc) and suggests that it would be monumentally implausible to suppose that the theory could score such empirical successes and yet not reflect, at least to some good approximation, the (...)
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  27. Saeid Zibakalam (1994). Relativism Due to Underdetermination of Theory by Data. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 8 (3):211 – 228.
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Empirically Equivalent Theories
  1. Tulodziecki Dana (2007). Breaking the Ties: Epistemic Significance, Bacilli, and Underdetermination. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C.
  2. Hans Halvorson (2013). The Semantic View, If Plausible, Is Syntactic. Philosophy of Science 80 (3):475-478.
  3. Milena Ivanova & Cedric Paternotte (2013). Theory Choice, Good Sense and Social Consensus. 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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  4. Jonathan Michael Kaplan & Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2013). Prisoners of Abstraction? The Theory and Measure of Genetic Variation, and the Very Concept of 'Race'. 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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  5. P. D. Magnus (2005). Reckoning the Shape of Everything: Underdetermination and Cosmotopology. 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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  6. Seungbae Park (forthcoming). The Argument From Underconsideration Reconsidered. Acta Philosophica.
    Scientific antirealists run the argument from underconsideration against scientific realism. My reply is that the argument from underconsideration backfires on antirealists’ positive philosophical theories, such as the English model of rationality, the contextual theory of explanation, the evolutionary explanation of the success of science, and explanatory idealism. Antirealists also strengthen the argument from underconsideration with the pessimistic induction against current scientific theories. In response, I construct a pessimistic induction against antirealists’ current philosophical theories that since antirealists’ past philosophical theories have (...)
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  7. Seungbae Park (2014). Approximate Truth Vs. Empirical Adequacy. 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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  8. D. Tulodziecki (2013). Underdetermination, Methodological Practices, and Realism. Synthese 190 (17):3731-3750.
    In this paper, I argue (i) that there are certain methodological practices that are epistemically significant, and (ii) that we can test for the success of these practices empirically by examining case-studies in the history of science. Analysing a particular episode from the history of medicine, I explain how this can help us resolve specific cases of underdetermination. I conclude that, while the anti-realist is (more or less legitimately) able to construct underdetermination scenarios on a case-by-case basis, he will have (...)
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  9. D. Tulodziecki (2012). Epistemic Equivalence and Epistemic Incapacitation. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (2):313-328.
    One typical realist response to the argument from underdetermination of theories by evidence is an appeal to epistemic criteria besides the empirical evidence to argue that, while scientific theories might be empirically equivalent, they are not epistemically equivalent. In this article, I spell out a new and reformulated version of the underdetermination argument that takes such criteria into account. I explain the notion of epistemic equivalence which this new argument appeals to, and argue that epistemic equivalence can be achieved in (...)
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  10. D. Tulodziecki (2007). Breaking the Ties: Epistemic Significance, Bacilli, and Underdetermination. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 38 (3):627-641.
  11. Maarten Van Dyck (2007). Constructive Empiricism and the Argument From Underdetermination. In Bradley John Monton (ed.), Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen. Oxford University Press.
    It is argued that, contrary to prevailing opinion, Bas van Fraassen nowhere uses the argument from underdetermination in his argument for constructive empiricism. It is explained that van Fraassen’s use of the notion of empirical equivalence in The Scientific Image has been widely misunderstood. A reconstruction of the main arguments for constructive empiricism is offered, showing how the passages that have been taken to be part of an appeal to the argument from underdetermination should actually be interpreted.
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  12. Ioannis Votsis, Evidential Equivalence.
    In this article I probe the consequences and limits of the underdetermination thesis and the empirical equivalence thesis, using Laudan and Leplin's fecund article as a springboard. Although a realist at heart, my primary intention is not to undermine the anti-realist arguments but rather to try to precisify the challenge the realist, and more generally the participant in the scientific realism debate, faces.
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  13. Ioannis Votsis (2007). Review of Kyle Stanford’s Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. [REVIEW] International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):103 – 106.
    In recent years, two challenges stand out against scientific realism: the argument from the underdetermination of theories by evidence (UTE) and the pessimistic induction argument (PI). In his book, Kyle Stanford accepts the gravity of these challenges, but argues that the most serious and powerful challenge to scientific realism has been neglected. The problem of unconceived alternatives (PUA), as he calls it, is introduced in chapter one and refined in chapter two. In short, PUA holds that throughout history scientists have (...)
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  14. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2006). Fisherian and Wrightian Perspectives in Evolutionary Genetics and Model-Mediated Imposition of Theoretical Assumptions. Journal of Theoretical Biology 240:218-232.
    I investigate how theoretical assumptions, pertinent to different perspectives and operative during the modeling process, are central in determining how nature is actually taken to be. I explore two different models by Michael Turelli and Steve Frank of the evolution of parasite-mediated cytoplasmic incompatility, guided, respectively, by Fisherian and Wrightian perspectives. Since the two models can be shown to be commensurable both with respect to mathematics and data, I argue that the differences between them in the (1) mathematical presentation of (...)
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  15. John Worrall (2011). Underdetermination, Realism and Empirical Equivalence. Synthese 180 (2):157 - 172.
    Are theories 'underdetermined by the evidence' in any way that should worry the scientific realist? I argue that no convincing reason has been given for thinking so. A crucial distinction is drawn between data equivalence and empirical equivalence. Duhem showed that it is always possible to produce a data equivalent rival to any accepted scientific theory. But there is no reason to regard such a rival as equally well empirically supported and hence no threat to realism. Two theories are empirically (...)
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Underdetermination of Theory by Data, Misc
  1. Lars Bergström (2004). Underdetermination of Physical Theory. In Roger F. Gibson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Quine. Cambridge University Press. 91--114.
  2. Lars Bergström (1993). Quine, Underdetermination, and Skepticism. Journal of Philosophy 60 (7):331-358.
  3. Lars Bergström (1984). Underdetermination and Realism. Erkenntnis 21 (3):349 - 365.
  4. Alexander Bird (2007). Underdetermination and Evidence. In Bradley John Monton (ed.), Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen. Oxford University Press.
    I present an argument that encapsulates the view that theory is underdetermined by evidence. I show that if we accept Williamson's equation of evidence and knowledge, then this argument is question-begging. I examine ways of defenders of underdetermination may avoid this criticism. I also relate this argument and my critique to van Fraassen's constructive empiricism.
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  5. Jacob Busch (2011). Indispensability and Holism. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 42 (1):47-59.
    It is claimed that the indispensability argument for the existence of mathematical entities (IA) works in a way that allows a proponent of mathematical realism to remain agnostic with regard to how we establish that mathematical entities exist. This is supposed to be possible by virtue of the appeal to confirmational holism that enters into the formulation of IA. Holism about confirmation is supposed to be motivated in analogy with holism about falsification. I present an account of how holism about (...)
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  6. Tulodziecki Dana (2007). Breaking the Ties: Epistemic Significance, Bacilli, and Underdetermination. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C.
  7. Greg Frost-Arnold & P. D. Magnus (2010). The Identical Rivals Response to Underdetermination. In P. D. Magnus Jacob Busch (ed.), New Waves in Philosophy of Science. Palgrave Macmillan.
    The underdetermination of theory by data obtains when, inescapably, evidence is insufficient to allow scientists to decide responsibly between rival theories. One response to would-be underdetermination is to deny that the rival theories are distinct theories at all, insisting instead that they are just different formulations of the same underlying theory; we call this the identical rivals response. An argument adapted from John Norton suggests that the response is presumptively always appropriate, while another from Larry Laudan and Jarrett Leplin (...)
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  8. Greg Frost-Arnold, J. Brian Pitts, John Norton, John Manchak, D. Tulodziecki, P. D. Magnus, David Harker & Kyle Stanford, Synopsis and Discussion. Workshop: Underdetermination in Science 21-22 March, 2009. Center for Philosophy of Science.
    This document collects discussion and commentary on issues raised in the workshop by its participants. Contributors are: Greg Frost-Arnold, David Harker, P. D. Magnus, John Manchak, John D. <span class='Hi'>Norton</span> , J. Brian Pitts, Kyle Stanford, Dana Tulodziecki.
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