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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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Underdetermination and Evidence

Underdetermination and Evidence

(p.62) 5 Underdetermination and Evidence
Images of Empiricism

Alexander Bird (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows that the sceptical empiricist argument, and by extension any argument like it, fails. It considers the concept of evidence, endorsing Williamson's view that all and only knowledge is evidence, (E=K). In particular, it considers the alternative view that only observational knowledge is evidence. Bas van Fraassen's constructive empiricism is then studied. Some commentators employ a caricature of constructive empiricism that takes the same argument. In fact, van Fraassen is careful to distance himself from scepticism about theories and to take constructive empiricism to be a view about the aim of science. It is argued that van Fraassen ought to be committed to the sceptical conclusion, and that constructive empiricism is implicitly committed to the above argument.

Keywords:   constructive empiricism, Williamson, underdetermination, observable knowledge, epistmic scepticism, sceptical empiricist argument

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