Einstein and Duhem

Synthese 83 (3):363 - 384 (1990)
Pierre Duhem's often unrecognized influence on twentieth-century philosophy of science is illustrated by an analysis of his significant if also largely unrecognized influence on Albert Einstein. Einstein's first acquaintance with Duhem's La Théorie physique, son objet et sa structure around 1909 is strongly suggested by his close personal and professional relationship with Duhem's German translator, Friedrich Adler. The central role of a Duhemian holistic, underdeterminationist variety of conventionalism in Einstein's thought is examined at length, with special emphasis on Einstein's deployment of Duhemian arguments in his debates with neo-Kantian interpreters of relativity and in his critique of the empiricist doctrines of theory testing advanced by Schlick, Reichenbach, and Carnap. Most striking is Einstein's 1949 criticism of the verificationist conception of meaning from a holistic point of view, anticipating by two years the rather similar, but more famous criticism advanced independently by Quine in Two Dogmas of Empiricism.
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DOI 10.1007/BF00413422
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References found in this work BETA
Willard V. O. Quine (1951). Two Dogmas of Empiricism. Philosophical Review 60 (1):20–43.
Otto Neurath (1932). Protokollsätze. Erkenntnis 3 (1):204-214.

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T. A. Ryckman (1994). Weyl, Reichenbach and the Epistemology of Geometry. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 25 (6):831-870.

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