Constructive Empiricism and Scientific Practice. A Case Study

Theoria 17 (2):335-357 (2002)
Abstract
According to van Fraassen, constructive empiricism (CE) makes better sense of scientific activity than scientific realism (SR). I discuss a recent episode in biomedical research - investigations about Helicobacter Pylori and its relation to peptic ulcer. CE's expedient to cope with it is a sort of belief substitution. I argue that replacing realist beliefs by empiricist surrogates (as-if beliefs) could accommodate scientists' expectations and behavior. Nonetheless, theoretical agnosticism could hardly motivate scientists to focus just on the observational consequences derived from the theory at issue. Contrary to van Fraassen, I conclude then that, concerning scientific practice, realist beliefs cannot be considered as a gratuitious surplus which should be rejected
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