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Author Dicken, Paul ♦ Lipton, Peter
Source CiteSeerX
Content type Text
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Subject Domain (in DDC) Computer science, information & general works ♦ Data processing & computer science
Subject Keyword Van Fraassen ♦ Scientific Theory ♦ Constructive Empiricist ♦ Constructive Empiricism ♦ Interesting Difficulty ♦ Epistemic Limit ♦ Final Physic ♦ Van Fraassen Response ♦ Unobservable Entity ♦ Observable Entity ♦ Human Being ♦ Observability Call ♦ Epistemic Coherence ♦ Alan Musgrave ♦ Fraassen Use ♦ Natural Objection ♦ Musgrave Objection ♦ Constructive Empiricist Need ♦ Particular Clarity ♦ Science Aim ♦ Human Physiology ♦ Abstract Way
Abstract There is a natural objection to the epistemic coherence of Bas van Fraassen’s use of a distinction between the observable and unobservable in his constructive empiricism, an objection that has been raised with particular clarity by Alan Musgrave. We outline Musgrave’s objection, and then consider how one might interpret and evaluate van Fraassen’s response. According to the constructive empiricist, observability for us is measured with respect to the epistemic limits of human beings qua measuring devices, limitations ‘which will be described in detail in the final physics and biology ’ (van Fraassen 1980: 17). In order for the constructive empiricist to determine what counts as observable, he will have to appeal to our best scientific theories of light, human physiology, and so forth. To put the same point in a slightly more abstract way, in order to draw a distinction between observable and unobservable entities, the constructive empiricist needs to use his best scientific theory of observability – call it T * – to tell him the identity of the observable entities. This raises an interesting difficulty. Constructive empiricism is the view that ‘science aims to give us theories that are empirically adequate; and acceptance of a theory involves as
Educational Role Student ♦ Teacher
Age Range above 22 year
Educational Use Research
Education Level UG and PG ♦ Career/Technical Study