High energy physics and constructive empiricism

Progress in elementary particle physics in recent decades has changed the status of the visible phenomena in the context of scientific research. Empiricist positions in philosophy of science, which put particular emphasis on the pre-eminence of the visible regime, are affected by this development. In spite of its less radical claims, constructive empiricism turns out to run into more serious problems than straightforward instrumentalism. The constructive empiricist’s emphasis on the scientist’s aims makes it essential for her to provide a satisfactory motivation for scientific inquiry. This, however, seems difficult to achieve on an empiricist basis in the case of elementary particle physics.
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