sexta-feira, 6 de janeiro de 2012

“Plausible insofar as it is intelligible”: Quine on underdetermination

Autor: Rogério Passos Severo

Quine’s thesis of underdetermination is significantly weaker than it has been taken to be in the recent literature, for the following reasons: (i) it does not hold for all theories, but only for some global theories, (ii) it does not require the existence of empirically equivalent yet logically incompatible theories, (iii) it does not rule out the possibility that all perceived rivalry between empirically equivalent theories might be merely apparent and eliminable through translation, (iv) it is not a fundamental thesis within Quine’s philosophy, and (v) it does not carry with it the anti-realistic consequences often associated with the thesis in recent debates. The paper analyzes Quine’s views on the matter and the changes they underwent over the years. A conjecture is put forth about why Quine’s thesis has been so widely misrepresented: Quine’s writings up to 1975 tackled primarily the formulation and justification of the thesis, but afterwards were concerned mostly with the question whether empirically equivalent rivals to the theory we hold are to be considered true also. When this latter discussion is read without bearing in mind Quine’s earlier formulation and justification of the thesis, his thesis seems to have stronger epistemic consequences than it actually does. A careful reading of his later writings shows, however, that the formulation of the thesis remained unchanged after 1975, and that his mature and considered views supported only a very mitigated version of the thesis.


Citação: Severo, Rogério Passos (2008). “Plausible insofar as it is intelligible: Quine on underdetermination". Synthese: vol. 161, n. 1, pp. 141-165.

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