David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of Science 27 (1):75-87 (1960)
This paper offers a refutation of P. Duhem's thesis that the falsifiability of an isolated empirical hypothesis H as an explanans is unavoidably inconclusive. Its central contentions are the following: 1. No general features of the logic of falsifiability can assure, for every isolated empirical hypothesis H and independently of the domain to which it pertains, that H can always be preserved as an explanans of any empirical findings O whatever by some modification of the auxiliary assumptions A in conjunction with which H functions as an explanans. For Duhem cannot guarantee on any general logical grounds the deducibility of O from an explanans constituted by the conjunction of H and some revised non-trivial version R of A: the existence of the required set R of collateral assumptions must be demonstrated for each particular case. 2. The categorical form of the Duhemian thesis is not only a non-sequitur but actually false. This is shown by adducing the testing of physical geometry as a counterexample to Duhem in the form of a rebuttal to A. Einstein's geometrical articulation of Duhem's thesis. 3. The possibility of a quasi a priori choice of a physical geometry in the sense of Duhem must be clearly distinguished from the feasibility of a conventional adoption of such a geometry in the sense of H. Poincare. And the legitimacy of the latter cannot be invoked to save the Duhemian thesis from refutation by the foregoing considerations
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Citations of this work BETA
K. R. Sawyer, Clive Beed & H. Sankey (1997). Underdetermination in Economics. The Duhem-Quine Thesis. Economics and Philosophy 13 (1):1-23.
Imre Lakatos (1974). The Role of Crucial Experiments in Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 4 (4):309-325.
Rogério Passos Severo (2008). “Plausible Insofar as It is Intelligible”: Quine on Underdetermination. Synthese 161 (1):141 - 165.
Sorin Bangu (2006). Underdetermination and the Argument From Indirect Confirmation. Ratio 19 (3):269–277.
Paul E. Meehl (1992). The Miracle Argument for Realism: An Important Lesson to Be Learned by Generalizing From Carrier's Counter-Examples. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 23 (2):267-282.
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