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Another Look at Empirical Equivalence and Underdetermination of Theory Choice

Acuña, Pablo and Dieks, Dennis (2013) Another Look at Empirical Equivalence and Underdetermination of Theory Choice. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In 1991 Larry Laudan and Jarret Leplin proposed a solution for the problem of predictive equivalence and empirical underdetermination. In this paper we claim that, even though Laudan and Leplin’s reasoning is essentially correct, their solution of the underdetermination problem must be accurately assessed in order to appreciate its nature and scope. We argue that Laudan and Leplin’s analysis does not refute the problem (as they claim). Instead, what they show is merely that science possesses tools that may eventually lead out of an underdetermination impasse. We apply their argument to a real case of two empirically equivalent theories: Lorentz’s ether theory and Einstein’s special relativity. We argue that this example shows that the core of Laudan and Leplin’s proposal works, but also that the reassessment we argue for is correct and necessary. We conclude that empirical equivalence and underdetermination are ordinary scientific problems rather than problems that should be solved by epistemology.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Acuña, Pablop.t.acunaluongo@uu.nl
Dieks, Dennisd.dieks@uu.nl
Keywords: Empirical equivalence, underdetermination, theory choice, non-empirical virtues, empirical evidence, confirmation, special relativity, Hendrik Lorentz.
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Depositing User: Mr. Pablo Acuña
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2013 07:40
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2013 07:40
Item ID: 9883
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Date: April 2013
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9883

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