Underdetermination, holism and the theory/data distinction

Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208):303-319 (2002)
I examine the argument that scientific theories are typically 'underdetermined' by the data, an argument which has often been used to combat scientific realism. I deal with two objections to the underdetermination argument: (i) that the argument conflicts with the holistic nature of confirmation, and (ii) that the argument rests on an untenable theory/data dualism. I discuss possible responses to both objections, and argue that in both cases the proponent of underdetermination can respond in ways which are individually plausible, but that the best response to the first objection conflicts with the best response to the second. Consequently underdetermination poses less of a problem for scientific realism than has often been thought
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Yemima Ben-Menahem (1990). Equivalent Descriptions. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 41 (2):261-279.

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