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::: center home >> events >> conferences 2008-09 >> underdetermination >> abstracts

Must Evidence Underdetermine Theory?
John D. Norton
Dept. of HPS and Center for Philosophy of Science
University of Pittsburgh

Abstract: While it is sometimes taken as a truism of inductive inference that evidence necessarily leaves theory underdetermined, this underdetermination is usually recovered from an impoverished and simple-minded version of hypothetico-deductive. None of the major accounts of inductive inference support it. The favored strategy of supporting underdetermination by the display of observationally equivalent theories is self-defeating. If the observational equivalence can be demonstrated by arguments brief enough to fit in a journal article, we cannot preclude the possibility that the theories are merely variant formulations of the same theory. A variant of this response can also evade "underdetermination by grue."

Revised 12/11/08 - Copyright 2008