Duhem Quine thesis

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The Duhem-Quine thesis (also Quine-Duhem thesis , holism thesis ) claims that a theory is underdetermined by observational data. According to this, a theory consists of many interlinked statements that together form a whole that is as coherent as possible .

Accordingly, on the one hand, a theory cannot be verified or falsified through individual empirical observations and experiments - there are always a number of other theories up for debate. On the other hand, epistemological subjects always have several options, if an observation contradicts a certain theory, of changing this theory in such a way that it again agrees with the observations.

Its name is derived from Pierre Duhem , who first formulated it for physical theories, and from Willard Van Orman Quine , who generalized it in his essay Two Dogmas of Empiricism . There he claims that

"[...] our assertions about the outside world do not stand individually [,] but as a group before the tribunal of sensory experiences."

- Willard Van Orman Quine : Two dogmas of empiricism

Otto Neurath co- founded the Duhem-Quine thesis and is another representative of holism .

The Duhem-Quine thesis criticizes both the attempt to confirm and the falsification of individual legal hypotheses as falling short.

The Duhem-Quine thesis is also seen in connection with Gödel's incompleteness theorem of 1931, which states that a complete axiomatization of complex theories in the sense of the Hilbert program is impossible.

Web links


Individual evidence

  1. Andreas Bartels, Manfred Stöckler (ed.): Wissenschaftstheorie , mentis Verlag, Paderborn 2009, p. 329.
  2. Norbert Engemaier; Rico Hauswald; Daniel Schubbe: Theory of Science. In: Breitenstein / Rohbeck (ed.): Philosophy. - Metzler: Stuttgart, Weimar 2011, p. 165 (174).