Ground truth and virtual reality: Hacking vs. Van Fraassen

Philosophy of Science 62 (3):459-478 (1995)
Abstract
Hacking argues against van Fraassen's constructive empiricism by appeal to features of microscopic imaging. Hacking relies on both our practices involving imaging instruments and the structure of the images produced by these micropractices. Van Fraassen's reply is formally correct yet fundamentally unsatisfying. I aim to strengthen van Fraassen's reply, but must then extend constructive empiricism, specifically the central notion of "theoretical immersion." I argue that immersion is more analogous to entering a virtual reality than to learning a language. This metaphor assimilates instrument-based practice as well as theoretical debate and explanation, and can provide an anti-realist view of our micro-practices consonant with constructive empiricism
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