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.
Keywords Underdetermination   Philosophy of Science   Realism
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DOI 10.1007/BF00166499
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References found in this work BETA

The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
Intentional Systems.Daniel C. Dennett - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (February):87-106.
Explanation and Scientific Understanding.Michael Friedman - 1974 - Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):5-19.
Four Decades of Scientific Explanation.Wesley C. Salmon & Anne Fagot-Largeault - 1989 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 16 (2):355.

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Another Look at Empirical Equivalence and Underdetermination of Theory Choice.Pablo Acuña & Dennis Dieks - 2014 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 4 (2):153-180.
Underdetermination, Holism and the Theory/Data Distinction.Samir Okasha - 2002 - Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208):303-319.

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