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The Scientific Image$
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Bas. C. van Fraassen

Print publication date: 1980

Print ISBN-13: 9780198244271

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198244274.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 December 2021

Empiricism and Scientific Methodology

Empiricism and Scientific Methodology

(p.70) 4 Empiricism and Scientific Methodology
The Scientific Image

Bas C. van Fraassen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Scientific theories do much more than answer empirical questions. This can be understood along empiricist lines only if those other aspects are instrumental for the pursuit of empirical strength and adequacy, or serving other aims subordinate to these. This chapter accordingly addresses four main questions: (1) Does the rejection of realism lead to a self‐defeating scepticism? (2) Are scientific methodology and experimental design intelligible on any but a realist interpretation of science? (3) Is the ideal of the unity of science, or even the practice of using distinct theories in conjunction, intelligent on an empiricist view? (4) What sense can an empiricist position accord to those theoretical virtues––such as simplicity, coherence, explanatory power––that are not reducible to empirical strength or adequacy? The answers to these questions rely strongly on the pragmatics of scientific inquiry, and advocate a ‘Clausewitz doctrine’ of experimentation as a continuation of theorizing by other means.

Keywords:   Clausewitz doctrine of experimentation, coherence, empirical strength, experimental design, explanatory power, methodology, realism, scientific methodology, simplicity, skepticism, theoretical virtues, unity of science

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