The concept of observation in science and philosophy

Philosophy of Science 49 (4):485-525 (1982)
Abstract
Through a study of a sophisticated contemporary scientific experiment, it is shown how and why use of the term 'observation' in reference to that experiment departs from ordinary and philosophical usages which associate observation epistemically with perception. The role of "background information" is examined, and general conclusions are arrived at regarding the use of descriptive language in and in talking about science. These conclusions bring out the reasoning by which science builds on what it has learned, and, further, how that process of building consists not only in adding to our substantive knowledge, but also in increasing our ability to learn about nature, by extending our ability to observe it in new ways. The argument of this paper is thus a step toward understanding how it is that all our knowledge of nature rests on observation
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