Against positivism, the author insists on a literal interpretation of the language of science, and on an irreducibly pragmatic dimension of theory acceptance. Againstrealism he argues that the central aim of science is empirical adequacy, and that the only belief involved in the acceptance of a scientific theory is belief that the theory fits the observable phenomena. To substatiate this, the book presents three mutually supporting theories concerning science. The first is an account of the relation between a scientific theory and the empirical world. The second is a new theory of explanation and why-questions, according to which the explanatory power of a theoryis a pragmatic aspect which goes beyond its empirical import, but which provides no additional reasons for believing it.
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Bas van Fraassen
His father, a steam fitter , was forced by the Nazis to work in a factory in Hamburg. After the war, the family reunited and emigrated to Edmonton , in western Canada. He previously taught at Yale University , the University of Southern California , the University of Toronto and, from to , at Princeton University , where he is now emeritus. Philosophical work[ edit ] Philosophy of science[ edit ] Van Fraassen coined the term " constructive empiricism " in his book The Scientific Image, in which he argued for agnosticism about the reality of unobservable entities. That book was "widely credited with rehabilitating scientific anti-realism. Van Fraassen showed that there were other ways to be an empiricist with respect to science, without following in the footsteps of the logical positivists. Focusing on the problem of underdetermination , he argued for the possibility that theories could have empirical equivalence but differ in their ontological commitments.
The Scientific Image