David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Explorations (1995)
The objectivity and utility of experimental data as evidential support for knowledge-claims may be found suspect when it is shown that the interpretation of experimental data is inevitably complicated by social factors like experimenter effects, subject effects and demand characteristics, social factors which affect experimental data are themselves sensitive to societal conventions or cultural values, all observations are necessarily theory-dependent, and experimental data have limited generality because they are collected in artificial settings. These critiques of experimental data are answered by showing that not all empirical studies are experiments, experimental methodology is developed to exclude alternate interpretations of data, theoretical disputes and their settlement take place in the context of a particular frame of reference, and objectivity can be achieved with observations neutral to the to-be-corroborated theory despite theory-dependent observations if distinctions are made between prior observation and evidential observation and between a to-be-corroborated theory and the theory underlying the identity of evidential response.
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