Within the field of science and technology, there is a realm of discussion that highlights the debate over under determination, and how it is used by scientists when they seek to present data in scientific reporting (by scientists, for scientists). Under determination is a concept that states that there are always many theories that are able to give an explanation for results or data that are yielded in scientific research. Here the concept of under determination will be examined using a scientific article by McDonald ET. al entitled Cooperative provisioning dynamics: fathers and unrelated helpers show similar responses to manipulations of begging. In this article the authors look into the question of how fathers and non-related helpers (birds) react to begging of the brood (offspring). They initially hypothesize that the related father would be much more likely to react to begging than the unrelated bird, and this would result in the father providing more cooperative provision than the other non-related helper. The authors engage in experimenting to test their hypothesis and come up with data to support. From this essay it will be shown that the topic of this scientific research done by the authors would lead to no instance of under determination due to its narrow domain, but an investigation shows that there are some instances of it, but the authors are conscious of this, and therefore it is accounted for and acknowledged.
[...] To examine the extent of under determination that is used in this study we must look at the specific data that the authors yielded, and the way in which is was used in their concluding remarks. It should be mentioned that there are a predictably large number of equivalent empirical theories that can be aligned with the data that the authors yield, but this in and of it does not imply that there is under determination, because any precise evidence would serve to support or disprove all of the theories in the same way. [...]
[...] This is not unusual though, as a survey of many scientific articles does show that scientific data can largely be characterized in this way. To summarize, strong claims of under determination dictate that no evidence (even if it may be construed as perfect evidence), can arbitrate among differing theories. This raises the question of how the evidence is able to assist in choosing from the theories that manifest themselves when it comes to rival theories of cooperative provisioning dynamics. What can be gathered from the interaction of evidence with the choice of theory that the authors choose to use. [...]
[...] While we are humans studying birds, it is hard to know exactly what rational or non- rational processes are going on in their thought process. The helper birds did appear to act in a certain way when faced with manipulation from the brood, but as social scientists we can only assume that this was or was not a product of rational thinking on their part. This shows that in fact, different theories can be used to explain the same action, but in this case it is not as relevant, and does not go to show that under determination is a factor. (374). [...]
[...] They goes to show that multiple theories are offered when appropriate which is an argument against them being accused of under determination. It seemed at the beginning of this paper that the topic of cooperative provisioning dynamics in animal behavior might prove to be an interesting case of under determination as it is one that is narrowly focused and there seems to be a large amount of empirical research on it, given the broad references that McDonald et. al cited. Looking more closely at the case has yielded some notable findings. [...]
[...] Thirdly, it is appealing to guess why, even in a promising scientific study like this one, that under determination exists. Cooperative provisioning dynamics is after all a very narrow domain, but it can also be said to be broad as it requires one to take fundamental (which therefore means disputed) parts of animal behavior. The data that the authors gathered is very good, but it is not quite good enough to judge across many different levels that are created through the required theoretical commitment. [...]
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