Underdetermination Thesis

Underdetermination Thesis-66
Given that the link is not deductive, it is claimed that we can never justifiably believe in the truth of a theory, no matter what the evidence is.However, it would be folly to think that deductive underdetermination creates a genuine epistemic problem.Deductive underdetermination rests on the claim that the link between evidence and (interesting) theory is not deductive.

Given that the link is not deductive, it is claimed that we can never justifiably believe in the truth of a theory, no matter what the evidence is.However, it would be folly to think that deductive underdetermination creates a genuine epistemic problem.Deductive underdetermination rests on the claim that the link between evidence and (interesting) theory is not deductive.

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It is primarily an epistemic thesis about the relation between evidence and theory, though in Quine's case it also has semantic overtones connected with his rejection of the analytic-synthetic distinction.

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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.

Inductive underdetermination would be inductive skepticism. The more interesting version of inductive underdetermination does not challenge the need to employ prior probabilities, but rather their epistemic credentials.

If, it is argued, prior probabilities have epistemic force, then the evidence can warrant a high degree of belief in a theory (or greater degree of belief in a theory than its rivals).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.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.The challenge, then, is this: Where do these prior probabilities come from?A total denial of the legitimacy of any prior probabilities would amount to inductive skepticism.There are enough reasons available for the claim that belief in theory can be justified even if the theory is not proven by the evidence: Warrant-conferring methods need not be deductive.Deductive underdetermination speaks against simplistic accounts of the hypothetico-deductive method, which presuppose that the epistemic warrant for a theory is solely a matter of entailing correct observational consequences.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.

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