Underdetermination Thesis

Underdetermination Thesis-40
So inductive underdetermination must rest on some arguments that question the confirmatory role of the evidence vis--vis the theory.There is a battery of such arguments, but they may be classified under two types.Deductive underdetermination rests on the claim that the link between evidence and (interesting) theory is not deductive.

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For on any theory of confirmation, the evidence (even if it is restricted to observational consequences) can render a theory probable or more probable than its rivals.

That is, the evidence can raise the probability of a theory.

The first capitalizes on the fact that no evidence can affect the probability of the theory unless the theory is assigned some nonzero initial probability.

In fact, given the fact that two or more rival theories are assigned different prior probabilities, the evidence can confirm one more than the others, or even make one highly probable.

Two or more rival theories (together with suitable initial conditions) may entail exactly the same observational consequences.

Given the above presupposition, it follows that the observational consequences cannot warrant belief in one theory over its rivals.Inductive underdetermination takes for granted that any attempt to prove a theory on the basis of evidence is futile.Still, it is argued, no evidence can confirm a theory or make it probable, or no evidence can confirm a theory more than its rivals. In all its generality, it is a recapitulation of inductive skepticism.The Quine-Duhem thesis is a form of the thesis of the underdetermination of theory by empirical evidence.The basic problem is that individual theoretical claims are unable to be confirmed or falsified on their own, in isolation from surrounding hypotheses.For this reason, the acceptance or rejection of a theoretical claim is underdetermined by observation.The thesis can be interpreted in a more radical form that tends to be associated with the epistemic holism of Willard V. Quine or in a more restricted form associated with Pierre Duhem.Hence, even if, for the time being, two (or more) theories entail the same observational consequences, there may be future auxiliary assumptions such that, when conjoined with one of them, they yield fresh observational consequences that can shift the evidential balance in favor of it over its rivals.Besides, a more radical (though plausible) thought is that theories may get (indirect) support from pieces of evidence that do not belong to their observational consequences.Let us call the first deductive underdetermination and the second inductive (or ampliative) underdetermination.Both kinds of claims are supposed to have a certain epistemic implication, namely that belief in theory is never warranted by the evidence. Deductive underdetermination is pervasive in all interesting cases of scientific theory.


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