Two philosophical points – the under-determination thesis and the theory/fact dichotomy

According to the “under-determination thesis” there can be an infinite number of scientific theories to describe any set of experimental data. Arthur I. Miller, Insights of Genius: Imagery and Creativity in Science and Art (Springer-Verlag 1996) at xii. This esoteric idea probably means that there could be an infinite number of explanations for any set of benchmarking data.

Point two. “All data, regardless of their source, can be discussed and evaluated only within a framework of knowledge. Philosophers refer to this observational situation as the ‘theory-ladeness’ of data” (at 12). Miller writes later, “There is no theory-neutral language with which to describe observations. Theory and data are necessarily intertwined, starting at the point where we even select what to observe.” I take this point to be that no once can pick out, let alone describe, something about a law department’s operations without being directed, knowingly or unknowingly, by some underlying construct of what’s important or some value set – a theory (See my posts of May 31, 2006 about how values underlie all management decisions; and Sept. 29, 2006 on some concepts from philosophy as they apply to law department management.)

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