Seeing the same things

The concern with the objectivity of observations is as old as empirical study itself. Protagoras’ assertion that ‘Man is the measure of all things’, though not particularly directed at observations, raised general doubts concerning the objectivity of our beliefs. In the twentieth century, the concern has been brought under the banner ‘theory-ladenness of observation’. In simple terms, since observations are conducted and formulated in theory-specific contexts, they are inadvertently imbued with the prejudices of those contexts - the terms ‘theory’ and ‘observation’ are here broadly construed. Accordingly, it is argued, observations cannot be neutral in the testing of theories.
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