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Holism and underdetermination (two theses of Quine)

DOI 10.18127/j19998554-201810-10


E.Yu. Sokolov – Post-graduate Student, Department of Philosophy and Methodology of Science, Faculty of Philosophy, Lomonosov Moscow State University

This paper is dedicated to analysis of two theses in the philosophy of science: holism thesis and underdetermination of a scientific theory by evidence. In order to demonstrate the close interrelationship between these theses a brief analysis of me-thodology of science of Pierre Duhem is provided. Duhem demonstrated that relationship between theory and empirical data is indissoluble: there is no chance to separate theory and evidence in highly developed theoretical disciplines such as physics. Underdetermination thesis has been put forward by Qune and can be treated as a part of his philosophy of science. This thesis deals with relationship between theory and empirical data. The idea of the thesis is that the evidence may be insufficient to determine theory uniquely. Moreover, the thesis of underdetermination allows us to explain the logical gaps in the construction of a scientific theories, the competition of rival theories supported by the same corpus of empirical data. This couple of theses leads us treat some well-known problems in new light: the role of conventions in the structure of theories, the logic rigidity of a theory, etc. It should be emphasized that the problem of a choice between competitive theories implies the methodological estimation of the situation in theoretical knowledge as a whole. In particular, the analysis of two basic areas of neurocomputing -- neural network paradigm and neuromodeling -- presupposes the methodological analysis of neurocomputing as a whole.

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May 29, 2020

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