Does every theory have empirically equivalent rivals?

Erkenntnis 44 (2):137 - 166 (1996)
The instrumentalist argument from the underdetermination of theories by data runs as follows: (1) every theory has empirically equivalent rivals; (2) the only warrant for believing one theory over another is its possession of a greater measure of empirical virtue; (3) therefore belief in any theory is arbitrary. In this paper, I examine the status of the first premise. Several arguments against the universal availability of empirically equivalent theoretical rivals are criticized, and four algorithms for producing empirically equivalent rivals are defended. I conclude that the case for the first premise of the argument from underdetermination is very strong. The disposition of the argument itself depends on the fate of the second premise.
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DOI 10.1007/BF00166499
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References found in this work BETA
Daniel C. Dennett (1971). Intentional Systems. Journal of Philosophy 68 (February):87-106.
Richard Boyd (1984). Scientific Realism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 21 (1&2):767-791.

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