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Full-Text Articles in Arts and Humanities

Hormone Research As An Exemplar Of Underdetermination, P.D. Magnus Sep 2005

Hormone Research As An Exemplar Of Underdetermination, P.D. Magnus

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

Debates about the underdetermination of theory by data often turn on specific examples. Many cases are invoked often enough that they become familiar, even well-worn. Here I consider one such commonplace: the connection between prenatal hormone levels and gender-linked childhood behavior. Since Helen Longino's original discussion of this case a decade-and-a-half ago, it has become become one of the stock examples of underdetermination. However, the case is not genuinely underdetermined. We can easily imagine a possible experiment to decide the question. The fact that we would not perform this experiment is a moral, rather than epistemic, point. Further, I ...


Reckoning The Shape Of Everything: Underdetermination And Cosmotopology, P.D. Magnus Jul 2005

Reckoning The Shape Of Everything: Underdetermination And Cosmotopology, P.D. Magnus

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

This paper offers a general characterization of underdetermination and gives a prima facie case for the underdetermination of the topology of the universe. A survey of several philosophical approaches to the problem fails to resolve the issue: the case involves the possibility of massive reduplication, but Strawson on massive reduplication provides no help here; it is not obvious that any of the rival theories are to be preferred on grounds of simplicity; and the usual talk of empirically equivalent theories misses the point entirely. (If the choice is underdetermined, then the theories are not empirically equivalent!) Yet the thought experiment ...


Modeling Mechanisms, Stuart Glennan Jan 2005

Modeling Mechanisms, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

Philosophers of science increasingly believe that much of science is concerned with understanding the mechanisms responsible for the production of natural phenomena. An adequate understanding of scientific research requires an account of how scientists develop and test models of mechanisms. This paper offers a general account of the nature of mechanical models, discussing the representational relationship that holds between mechanisms and their models as well as the techniques that can be used to test and refine such models. The analysis is supported by study of two competing models of a mechanism of speech perception.