The underdetermination of theory by data and the "strong programme" in the sociology of knowledge

Advocates of the "strong programme" in the sociology of knowledge have argued that, because scientific theories are "underdetermined" by data, sociological factors must be invoked to explain why scientists believe the theories they do. I examine this argument, and the responses to it by J.R. Brown (1989) and L. Laudan (1996). I distinguish between a number of different versions of the underdetermination thesis, some trivial, some substantive. I show that Brown's and Laudan's attempts to refute the sociologists' argument fail. Nonetheless, the sociologists' argument falls to a different criticism, for the version of the underdetermination thesis that the argument requires, has not been shown to be true.
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DOI 10.1080/026985900437782
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Roberto Fumagalli (2013). The Futile Search for True Utility. Economics and Philosophy 29 (3):325-347.
Chris Calvert-Minor (2008). The "Strong Programme", Normativity, and Social Causes. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 38 (1):1–22.
Adrian Haddock (2004). Rethinking the “Strong Programme” in the Sociology of Knowledge. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 35 (1):19-40.

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