How to Choose Between Empirically Indistinguishable Theories

Paul Horwich

in From a Deflationary Point of View

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780199251261
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602252 | DOI:
How to Choose Between Empirically Indistinguishable Theories

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The problem of underdetermination involves the questions: (1) Can incompatible total theories have the same testable questions? (2) If so, could there ever be a reason to choose between them? This essay develops an approach to this problem. It argues that there are many instances of underdetermination for which inductivism is inadequate. In such cases, it may be known which, or if any, of the incompatible theories is true without appealing to the positivistic doctrine of analytic bridge statements. The problem of underdetermination can be solved even if the observation/theory is discarded.

Keywords: problem of underdetermination; inductivism; incompatible total theories; positivism; analytic bridge

Chapter.  7052 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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