This essay traces some of Pierre Duhem's motives for his celebrated "Quine- Duhem thesis" to a specific worry about theory underdetermination that arises within classical mechanics, concerned with the rivalry between Duhem's own thermomechanical approach and the more narrowly "mechanical" treatment pursued by Hertz and others. In the context of the treatments of "physical infinitesimals" common at the time, these two approaches seem empirically indistinguishable. After an exposition of the basic issues, this alleged "underdetermination" is then evaluated from a more modern perspective.
(2001)The Duhem thesis, the Quine thesis and the problem of meaning holism in scientific theories. MPhil thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).
In Defense of the Quine-Duhem Thesis: A Reply to Greenwood
Koyré's work influenced Thomas Kuhn and others who made“scientific revolutions” a central feature of theirhistorical accounts. Still, the work of Kuhn and later historicallyoriented philosophers and sociologists of science did attempt toreintegrate the philosophical and historical studies that Duhem pursuedtogether but that were separated for a good part of the twentiethcentury.