David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 (2):585-597 (1994)
This paper challenges a central tenet of constructive empiricism, namely that empirical adequacy has a privileged epistemic status. I argue that perceptions of observables are theory-wrought, and theory-wrought in the same ways as the observation sentences we use to describe those perceptions, van Fraassen can draw no privileged or fundamental distinction between what we observe and interpreting those observations through theory. Since empirical adequacy depends upon accurately describing what we observe, and we have no theory-independent reason to believe that what we ‘observe’ is a reflection of what is true, then empirical adequacy can inherit no special connection to what is real via what we observe. The epistemological significance of empirical adequacy is thereby reduced.
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