Underdetermination and the argument from indirect confirmation

Ratio 19 (3):269–277 (2006)
In this paper I criticize one of the most convincing recent attempts to resist the underdetermination thesis, Laudan’s argument from indirect confirmation. Laudan highlights and rejects a tacit assumption of the underdetermination theorist, namely that theories can be confirmed only by empirical evidence that follows from them. He shows that once we accept that theories can also be confirmed indirectly, by evidence not entailed by them, the skeptical conclusion does not follow. I agree that Laudan is right to reject this assumption, but I argue that his explanation of how the rejection of this assumption blocks the skeptical conclusion is flawed. I conclude that the argument from indirect confirmation is not effective against the underdetermination thesis.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9329.2006.00326.x
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