Duhem-Quine thesis

Duhem-Quine thesis

the view associated with the French philosopher of science, Pierre Duhem (1861-1916), and the American logician, Willard Quine (1908-) that SCIENCE consists of a complex network of assumptions, concepts, hypotheses and theories which are appraised ‘as a whole’, with no possibility of individual propositions being appraised in isolation from our entire system of beliefs. See also ANALYTIC AND SYNTHETIC, THEORY RELATIVITY.
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Rather than deploying the Duhem-Quine thesis for his criticism of Popper's antiinductivism, however, Grunbaum argues that it is untenable when taken nontrivially.
Van den Brink's account of the ferment in the 1970s rightly gives attention to recognition of the "theory-ladenness" of data, and the shift from foundationalism to holism, first postulated as the Duhem-Quine thesis that theories never confront experimental results alone, but only as a network of theories and assumptions.
Quine's holism thesis has rightly been called the Duhem thesis and sometimes the Duhem-Quine thesis.
He examines the origins of the Fisherian and Pearsonian statistical methodologies, the links between positivism and quantitative research, the logic behind abduction, deduction and reduction, the philosophy of mathematics as it relates to quantitative research, philosophical issues of factor analysis, causal inference and the Duhem-Quine thesis, the causal Markov condition, faithfulness assumption and virtual intervention, closing with a lively treatment of evolutionary game theory.
The epistemological reason is the Duhem-Quine thesis that scientific theories are underdetermined by the evidence because more than one theory fits any given set of evidence.
A second reason several disciplines explain some of the same facts is that any fact is open to multiple interpretations by the Duhem-Quine thesis.
These are: (I) inductivism and its critics, (II) conventionalism and the Duhem-Quine thesis, (III) the nature of observation, and (IV) the demarcation between science and metaphysics.
Only if one adds that the meaning of a theoretical sentence is to be identified with its empirical consequences does the Duhem-Quine thesis lead to strange consequences, but there is no reason to make such an identification; it would indeed amount to a very crude meaning theory.
The second criticism is based on the Duhem-Quine thesis that, due to the complexity of scientific theories the best we can get from an apparent falsification is the knowledge that somewhere in that complex system something is wrong, but we cannot specify which hypothesis is responsible.
It will immediately be recognized that this defense of relativity is an example of the Duhem-Quine thesis in action.
To give some idea of the range of issues addressed, here is a list of further topics treated in some depth in connection with belief change: the peculiar status of modal appraisals and of conditionals, epistemic performances versus epistemic commitments, the normative component of belief attributions, Kuhn's thesis of incommensurability, dispositions (to believe), the Duhem-Quine thesis, and, finally, the delicate relationship between pragmatism and realism.