David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (3):511-533 (2002)
Current discussion of scientific realism and antirealism often cites Pierre Duhem’s argument for the underdetermination of theory choice by evidence. Participants draw on an account of his underdetermination thesis that is familiar, but incomplete. The purpose of this article is to complete the familiar account. I argue that a closer look at Duhem’s The aim and structure of physical theory suggests that the rationale for his underdetermination thesis comes from his philosophy of scientific language. I explore how an understanding of physical laws as symbolic is meant to support the thesis. In the course of my argument, I point out that Duhemian underdetermination is not meta-practical but grounded in the practice of science, specifically in the scientist’s use of instruments and measurement techniques. Measurement has a significant limitation, according to Duhem: it always involves approximation and a degree of experimental error. Consequently, it cannot overcome the gap between the ordinary, concrete language of observation and the mathematical language of science. Moreover, Duhem argues that the use of instruments in experiment invokes whole groups of theories. I contend that, ultimately, this reliance on auxiliary assumptions—which makes possible the use of instruments—is the foundation of his thesis and that recognizing this completes the familiar account of his underdetermination argument.Author Keywords: Duhem; Suppes; Underdetermination; Measurement; Physical theory
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem (1954). The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory. Princeton, Princeton University Press.
Frederick Suppe (ed.) (1974). The Structure of Scientific Theories. Urbana,University of Illinois Press.
James Bogen & James Woodward (1988). Saving the Phenomena. Philosophical Review 97 (3):303-352.
Frederick Suppe (2000). Understanding Scientific Theories: An Assessment of Developments, 1969-1998. Philosophy of Science 67 (3):115.
Newton da Costa & Steven French (2000). Models, Theories, and Structures: Thirty Years On. Philosophy of Science 67 (3):127.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
K. M. Darling (2002). The Complete Duhemian Underdetermination Argument: Scientific Language and Practice. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (3):511-533.
Samir Okasha (2002). Underdetermination, Holism and the Theory/Data Distinction. Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208):303-319.
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
Wolfgang Pietsch (2012). Defending Underdetermination or Why the Historical Perspective Makes a Difference. In Henk W. de Regt (ed.), Epsa Philosophy of Science: Amsterdam 2009. Springer 303--313.
Agustín Vicente & Fernando MartínezManrique (2005). Semantic Underdetermination and the Cognitive Uses of Language. Mind and Language 20 (5):537–558.
George Krzywicki Herburt (1959). The Analytic and the Synthetic. The Duhemian Argument and Some Contemporary Philosophers. Philosophy of Science 26 (2):104-113.
Arthur B. Millman (1990). Falsification and Grünbaum's Duhemian Theses. Synthese 82 (1):23 - 52.
Carl Matheson (1998). Why the No-Miracles Argument Fails. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 12 (3):263 – 279.
Seungbae Park (2009). Philosophical Responses to Underdetermination in Science. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 40 (1):115 - 124.
Luca Moretti (2014). Global Scepticism, Underdetermination and Metaphysical Possibility. Erkenntnis 79 (2):381-403.
Andre Kukla (1994). Non-Empirical Theoretical Virtues and the Argument From Underdetermination. Erkenntnis 41 (2):157 - 170.
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.
John D. Norton (forthcoming). Must Evidence Underdetermine Theory. The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice:17--44.
Jonathan Bain (1998). Weinberg on QFT: Demonstrative Induction and Underdetermination. Synthese 117 (1):1-30.
Added to index2010-09-02
Total downloads22 ( #172,693 of 1,907,073 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #468,221 of 1,907,073 )
How can I increase my downloads?