Hormone research as an exemplar of underdetermination

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (3):559-567 (2005)
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Abstract

Debates about the underdetermination of theory by data often turn on specific examples. Cases invoked often enough become familiar, even well worn. Since Helen Longino’s discussion of the case, the connection between prenatal hormone levels and gender-linked childhood behaviour has become one of these stock examples. However, as I argue here, the case is not genuinely underdetermined. We can easily imagine a possible experiment to decide the question. The fact that we would not perform this experiment is a moral, rather than epistemic, point. Finally, I suggest that the ”underdetermination’ of the case may be inessential for Longino to establish her central claim about it.

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P. D. Magnus
State University of New York, Albany

References found in this work

Genesis and development of a scientific fact.Ludwik Fleck - 1979 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by T. J. Trenn & R. K. Merton.
Empirical equivalence and underdetermination.Larry Laudan & Jarrett Leplin - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (9):449-472.
Realist Ennui and the Base Rate Fallacy.P. D. Magnus & Craig Callender - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (3):320-338.
Demystifying underdetermination.Larry Laudan - 1956 - In C. Wade Savage (ed.), Scientific Theories. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 267-97.
Underdetermination, Realism, and Reason.John Earman - 1993 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 18 (1):19-38.

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