During a visit to ETHZ, a philosopher of science lead my
atttention to a concept named "underdetermination", of which I was
unaware. She gave me the paper of
Martin Carrier: Underdetermination as an
epistemological test tube: Expounding hidden values of the scientific
community. Synthese (2011) 180:189–204 DOI
The abstract reads
"Duhem–Quine underdetermination plays a constructive role in epistemology by pinpointing the impact of non-empirical virtues or cognitive values on theory choice. Underdetermination thus contributes to illuminating the nature of scientific rationality. Scientists prefer and accept one account among empirical equivalent alternatives. The non-empirical virtues operating in science are laid open in such theory choice decisions. The latter act as an epistemological test tube in making explicit commitments to how scientific knowledge should be like."
and the conclusions are begun with
underdetermination thesis says that any given set of data can always be
represented by empirically equivalent, conceptually distinct accounts. The range of relevant options is dependent on how empirical equivalence and conceptual distinctiveness is spelled out but irrespective of such details, the thesis establishes a
leeway for scientific theory when faced with the verdict of nature. The
reason for the significance of this leeway is that the criteria appealed
to in picking an account from the collection of empirically
admissible options bear witness to our epistemological intuitions."
I wonder what, if any, it means for our (climate) practice? As common in such texts, the examples are from quantum mechanis and celestial dynamics, and not from environmental sciences.
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