© 2008


An Essay on Evidence and the Limits of Natural Knowledge

  • Readable introduction to the controversy

  • Balanced analysis

  • Important topic in philosophy of science

  • Up-to-date, timely


Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 261)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Pages 141-175
  3. Back Matter
    Pages 259-284

About this book


Underdetermination. An Essay on Evidence and the Limits of Natural Knowledge is a wide-ranging study of the thesis that scientific theories are systematically "underdetermined" by the data they account for. This much-debated thesis is a thorn in the side of scientific realists and methodologists of science alike and of late has been vigorously attacked. After analyzing the epistemological and ontological ascpects of the controversy in detail, and reviewing pertinent logical facts and selected scientific cases, Bonk carefully examines the merits of arguments for and against the thesis. Along the way, he investigates methodological proposals and recent theories of confirmation, which promise to discriminate among observationally equivalent theories on evidential grounds. He explores sympathetically but critically W.V.Quine and H.Putnam’s arguments for the thesis, the relationship between indeterminacy and underdetermination, and possibilities for a conventionalist solution. This book is of interest to anyone working in philosophy of science, and to those interested in the philosophy of Quine.


Confirmation Philosophy of Quine Scientific Realism constructivism science underdetermination

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Ludwig-Maximilians-UniversitütGermany

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Underdetermination
  • Book Subtitle An Essay on Evidence and the Limits of Natural Knowledge
  • Authors Thomas Bonk
  • Series Title Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Netherlands 2008
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Humanities, Social Sciences and Law Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-4020-6898-0
  • Softcover ISBN 978-94-024-0481-4
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-4020-6899-7
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XII, 297
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Philosophy of Science
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


From the reviews:

“The essay makes a useful reading not only for advanced students of analytical philosophy but also for philosophically minded scientists. … provides an impressively comprehensive coverage of an enduring philosophical conundrum. … Bonk’s knowledge of Quine’s vast work is truly remarkable. … also to be recommended to Quine fans … . Summing up, the book has a lot to recommend it. … it covers virtually everything that has ever been said about this topic. … this is an excellent book to have on your shelf.” (Sorin Bangu, Metascience, Vol. 20 (1), March, 2011)

“Thomas Bonk offers an analysis of the problem of underdetermination of theories by empirical quantitative data (observation and experiments). … Bonk offers in his book a very comprehensive and detailed analysis of UT. … Bonk investigates UT and its various consequences using several distinctions and analytic devices. … In general, Bonk’s book is an important contribution in the domain of contemporary philosophy of science.”­­­ (Jan Woleński, Erkenntnis, Vol. 74, 2011)