The No Alternatives Argument
Department of Philosophy and Institute Vienna Circle University of Vienna Universitätsstr. 7 1010 Vienna Austria
Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy Ludwig Maximilians-Universität München Ludwigstr. 31 80539 München Germany
- Author Affiliations
Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science Tilburg University 5000 LE Tilburg The Netherlands
Scientific theories are hard to find, and once scientists have found a theory, H, they often believe that there are not many distinct alternatives to H. But is this belief justified? What should scientists believe about the number of alternatives to H, and how should they change these beliefs in the light of new evidence? These are some of the questions that we will address in this article. We also ask under which conditions failure to find an alternative to H confirms the theory in question. This kind of reasoning (which we call the ‘no alternatives argument’) is frequently used in science and therefore deserves a careful philosophical analysis.
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