An Appraisal of Duhem-Quine's thesis on Crucial Experiments in Physics: An Essay in Philosophy of Science

  • Victor C. Nweke
  • Martin F. Asiegbu
Keywords: Duhem-Quine thesis, Underdetermination, Duhem, Quine, hypothesis or proposition


The Duhem-Quine thesis on crucial experiment in physics states that the scientist can never submit an isolated hypothesis to experimental test because our statements about the physical world are inseparable and interconnected. Using the method of critical expository analysis, paper examines the plausibility of this thesis in relation to adequate description of the nature of science and its historical development. In doing this, the paper argues that the thesis is veracious because it captures the true nature of scientific inquires, debunks the existence of crucial experiments in science, unveils the underdetermination of scientific theories, punctures the hegemonic claims of modern science and in so doing encourages the use of different scientific methodologies in the attempt to explore, grasp, explain and exploit physical reality for human well-being. Consequently, the paper concludes that the Duhem-Quine thesis tends towards the conceptualization of science as a value-laden and culture sensitive enterprise and, as a result, rightly suggests that the falsification, nay condemnation, of certain knowledge claims as illegitimate and unscientific, using the canons of modern science, is inadequate and misleading.