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Images of EmpiricismEssays on Science and Stances, with a Reply from Bas C. van Fraassen$
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Bradley Monton

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199218844

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199218844.001.0001

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The Dilemma of Empiricist Belief

The Dilemma of Empiricist Belief

(p.209) 11 The Dilemma of Empiricist Belief
Images of Empiricism

Chad Mohler

Oxford University Press

This chapter evaluates van Fraassen's rejection of naïve empiricism. For example a naïve empiricist holds that to be an empiricist is to believe some thesis E. Van Fraassen argues that the naïve empiricist faces a dilemma. Suppose the naïve empiricist holds that E is not open to debate: this violates the empiricist idea that disagreement with any admissible factual hypothesis is admissible. Suppose instead that the naïve empiricist holds that E is open to debate: this prevents the empiricist from using E to challenge metaphysical claims. It is argued that that van Fraassen's stance empiricism also faces this same dilemma. The empiricist can consistently maintain that the beliefs necessary to empiricism are subject to empirical confirmation/disconfirmation, while also using those beliefs as the basis of a critique of metaphysics.

Keywords:   Bas van Fraassen, naïve empiricism, dilemma of empiricist belief, The Empirical Stance, metaphysics

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