Authors
P. D. Magnus
State University of New York, Albany
Abstract
There are two ways that we might respond to the underdetermination of theory by data. One response, which we can call the agnostic response, is to suspend judgment: "Where scientific standards cannot guide us, we should believe nothing". Another response, which we can call the fideist response, is to believe whatever we would like to believe: "If science cannot speak to the question, then we may believe anything without science ever contradicting us". C.S. Peirce recognized these options and suggested evading the dilemma. It is a Logical Maxim, he suggests, that there could be no genuine underdetermination. This is no longer a viable option in the wake of developments in modern physics, so we must face the dilemma head on. The agnostic and fideist responses to underdetermination represent fundamentally different epistemic viewpoints. Nevertheless, the choice between them is not an unresolvable struggle between incommensurable worldviews. There are legitimate considerations tugging in each direction. Given the balance of these considerations, there should be a modest presumption of agnosticism. This may conflict with Peirce's Logical Maxim, but it preserves all that we can preserve of the Peircean motivation.
Keywords agnosticism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/00201740510015347
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory.Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem - 1954 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
The Empirical Stance.Bas C. van Fraassen - 2002 - Yale University Press.
The Empirical Stance.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 2002 - Yale University Press.
The Empirical Stance.Bas C. van Fraassen - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 121 (2):171-192.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Reckoning the Shape of Everything: Underdetermination and Cosmotopology.P. D. Magnus - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (3):541-557.
Background Theories and Total Science.P. D. Magnus - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1064-1075.
Should We Draw a Line Between Business And Ethics?Yusuke Kaneko - 2011 - The ACERP 2011 Conference Proceedings 1 (1):195-208.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Peirce's Pragmatism, Scientific Realism, and the Problem of Underdetermination.Herman C. D. G. De Regt - 1999 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 35 (2):374 - 397.
Underdetermination, Holism and the Theory/Data Distinction.Samir Okasha - 2002 - Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208):303-319.
Philosophical Responses to Underdetermination in Science.Seungbae Park - 2009 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 40 (1):115–124.
Underdetermination and the Claims of Science.P. D. Magnus - 2003 - Dissertation, University of California, San Diego
Underdetermination and the Problem of Identical Rivals.P. D. Magnus - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1256-1264.
Underdetermination and the Explanation of Theory-Acceptance: A Response to Samir Okasha.Ward E. Jones - 2000 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 14 (3):299 – 304.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
221 ( #45,491 of 2,448,960 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #82,497 of 2,448,960 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes