Constructive Empiricism
Monton (Bradley) & Mohler (Chad)
Source: Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Constructive empiricism is the version of scientific anti-realism promulgated by Bas van Fraassen in his famous book "Van Fraassen (Bas) - The Scientific Image" (1980). Van Fraassen defines the view as follows:

      Science aims to give us theories which are empirically adequate; and acceptance of a theory involves as belief only that it is empirically adequate. (1980, 12)
  2. With his doctrine of constructive empiricism, van Fraassen is widely credited with rehabilitating scientific anti-realism. There has been a contentious debate within the philosophy of science community over whether constructive empiricism is true or false. There is also some unclarity regarding what van Fraassen's arguments for the doctrine actually are. In addition, there are controversies about what the doctrine actually amounts to. While constructive empiricism has not gained a wide number of adherents, it continues to be a highly influential doctrine in philosophy of science.

  1. Understanding Constructive Empiricism
    … 1.1 Contrast with Scientific Realism
    … 1.2 On Literalness
    … 1.3 Contrast with Logical Positivism
    … 1.4 A Doctrine about Aims
    … 1.5 Empirical Adequacy
    … 1.6 What's Observable
    … 1.7 Acceptance
  2. Arguments For Constructive Empiricism
    … 2.1 Poor arguments for constructive empiricism
    … 2.2 Empirical Adequacy versus Truth
    … 2.3 The Relationship Between Theory and Experiment
    … 2.4 The Pragmatics of Theory Choice
    … 2.5 The Pragmatics of Explanation
    … 2.6 Avoiding Inflationary Metaphysics
  3. Arguments Against Constructive Empiricism
    … 3.1 The Miracle Argument
    … 3.2 Inference to the Best Explanation
    … 3.3 The Observable/Unobservable Distinction
    … 3.4 Observable versus Observed
    … 3.5 Commitments to modal1 realism in talk of observability?
    … 3.6 Why Not Just Believe in Sense Data?
    … 3.7 The Hermeneutic Circle
    … 3.8 Commitment to the Existence of Abstract Objects?
  4. Bibliography
    … Academic Tools
    … Other Internet Resources
    … Related Entries


Recommended by "Massimi (Michela) - Are Scientific Theories True?". First published Wed Oct 1, 2008; substantive revision Mon Dec 17, 2012. For the full text, see Stanford: Constructive Empiricism.

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