Projet En développant son « empirisme constructif », Bas Van Fraassen est devenu une référence incontournable pour la philosophie des sciences contemporaine. Après la vague de critiques qui, vers les années 1960, avait fait perdre à l'empirisme logique sa prédominance dans le champ des idées, le réalisme scientifique semblait s'être imposé comme le seul compte rendu acceptable du travail et des orientations de la recherche. Quine avait beau énoncer ce que pourrait être un empirisme affranchi de ses deux « dogmes (...) » (l'intangibilité de la distinction vérités analytiques / vérités synthétiques, et la réduction des constructions aux « faits »), le programme d'une philosophie des sciences empiriste renouvelée restait à l'état d'esquisse. Mais par trois ouvrages successifs, Scientific Image (1980), Laws and symmetry (1989), et Quantum mechanics an empiricist view (1991), Van Fraassen a posé les bases d'un empirisme viable, parce que capable de prendre en charge la plupart des spécificités dont se prévaut le réalisme contre l'empirisme classique ou logique, et de rendre raison des développements les plus actuels de la physique. Contre l'empirisme classique ou logique, les réalistes font d'abord valoir que la réduction de toute réalité et de tout acte de référence aux phénomènes, ne rend justice ni à la pratique du langage courant ni à celle des sciences. Lorsque quelqu'un procède à une dénomination, il ne cherche pas à désigner par là une tranche d'apparaître, ou quelque ensemble fini et répertorié d'apparitions; il pointe vers "quelque chose" dont les modalités de manifestation sans fin assignable sont pour partie anticipées et pour partie ouvertes. De même, quand un chercheur scientifique parle de l'objet de ses investigations, il ne limite pas son discours à un ensemble fini de résultats d'expérience obtenus sous des conditions instrumentales actuellement disponibles; il renvoie à une entité dont la variété des manifestations futures est prévue aussi complètement que possible (et avec un succès croissant) par des cadres conceptuels et théoriques révisables. Face à cette objection, Van Fraassen fait jouer un rôle capital aux modèles dans sa version de l'empirisme.. (shrink)
It is argued that, contrary to prevailing opinion, Bas van Fraassen nowhere uses the argument from underdetermination in his argument for constructive empiricism. It is explained that van Fraassen’s use of the notion of empirical equivalence in The Scientific Image has been widely misunderstood. A reconstruction of the main arguments for constructive empiricism is offered, showing how the passages that have been taken to be part of an appeal to the argument from underdetermination should actually be interpreted.
In his recent book, The Empirical Stance (2002), Bas van Fraassen elaborates on earlier suggestions of a religious view that has striking parallels withhis constructive empiricism. A particularly salient feature consists in the way in which he keeps a critical distance from theoretical formulations both in scienceand religion, thus preferring a mystical approach to religious experience. As an alternative, I suggest a view based on mediation by the word, both in the structureof reality and the encounter between persons. Without falling (...) prey to rationalist illusions, such an approach allows for true human knowledge as embedded intranscendent Wisdom. It implies a more radical break with the Enlightenment ideal of neutral and universal knowledge than van Fraassen’s program, as he stillmaintains a kind of immanent grounding of knowledge in the form of direct, unmediated experience, in spite of his rejection of classical foundationalism. Wecan thus overcome the antithetical ring that characterizes his notion of rationality understood as bridled irrationality and escape relativism without forgetting thelessons that we have learned from the collapse of positivism—lessons to which van Fraassen rightly draws our attention. (shrink)
http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2008v12n2p121 O objetivo deste trabalho é discutir e desenvolver o diagnóstico que efetua van Fraassen (1987, p. 110) da lei de Hardy-Weinberg, de acordo coo qual esta: 1) não pode ser considerada uma lei a ser utilizada como un axioma da teoria genética de populações, pois é uma lei de equilíbrio que só vale sob certas condições especiais, 2) só determina uma subclasse de modelos, 3) sua generalização resulta vácua e 4) variantes complexas da lei podem ser deduzidas para pressupostos (...) mais realistas. A discussão e desenvolvimento deste diagnóstico será levada a cabo tomando como base noções propostas por outra das concepções semânticas afim daquela desenvolvida por van Fraassen, a saber: a concepção estruturalista das teorias, e uma reconstrução da genética clássica de populações no marco de uma tal metateoria, também apresentada neste trabalho. (shrink)
De acordo com a concepção dominante de causação, eventos espácio-temporalmente localizáveis que podem ser designados por termos singulares e descrições definidas são os únicos relata genuínos da relação causal. Isto dá apoio e é apoiado pela dicotomia aceita entre a explicação causal, concebida como uma relação intensional entre fatos ou verdades, e a relação natural e extensional da causação. O ensaio questiona este modo de ver e argumenta pela legitimidade da noção de causação por fatos: os relata de muitas relações (...) expressas pelo conector sentencial ‘(O fato) C causa (o fato) E’ podem ser causas e efeitos genuínos (I). Esta visão expandida da causação é então aplicada ao problema da causação mental. Assumindo a verdade do realizacionismo físico, o ensaio explora a conexão entre eficácia causal e relevância contrafactual de propriedades. Mostra-se que, pelo menos em muitos casos, as ligações contrafactuais corretas, requeridas pela causação, podem ser encontradas somente no nível dos fatos realizados, não no nível mais básico dos fatos realizadores (II). Finalmente, dadas as similaridades entre a defesa do fisicismo não-reducionista esboçada aqui e as tentativas menos modestas de justificação científica das pretensões do materialismo metafísico, justamente criticadas por van Fraassen como manifestações da ‘falsa consciência’, considera-se se e como a argumento principal do ensaio pode evitar o juízo crítico de van Fraassen (III). (shrink)
There is a natural objection to the epistemic coherence of Bas van Fraassen’s use of a distinction between the observable and unobservable in his constructive empiricism, an objection that has been raised with particular clarity by Alan Musgrave. We outline Musgrave’s objection, and then consider how one might interpret and evaluate van Fraassen’s response. According to the constructive empiricist, observability for us is measured with respect to the epistemic limits of human beings qua measuring devices, limitations ‘which will be described (...) in detail in the final physics and biology’ (van Fraassen 1980: 17). In order for the constructive empiricist to determine what counts as observable, he will have to appeal to our best scientific theories of light, human physiology, and so forth. To put the same point in a slightly more abstract way, in order to draw a distinction between observable and unobservable entities, the constructive empiricist needs to use his best scientific theory of observability – call it T* – to tell him the identity of the observable entities. This raises an interesting difficulty. Constructive empiricism is the view that ‘science aims to give us theories that are empirically adequate; and acceptance of a theory involves as belief only that it is empirically adequate’ (van Fraassen 1980:12). When he accepts a theory, the constructive empiricist only believes the statements of his scientific theories that are about observable entities. Thus, in order to know which statements of a scientific theory to believe, the constructive empiricist needs to know which statements of that theory are about observable entities. In particular then, the constructive empiricist only believes the statements of his theory of observability T* that are about observable entities. Therefore, in order to know which statements of T* he can believe, the constructive empiricist needs to know which statements of T* are about observable entities. However, it is T* that tells the constructive empiricist what counts as an observable entity: the constructive empiricist therefore needs to use T* to tell him which statements of T* he can believe. The fact that the distinction drawn by T* must also apply to itself is not an immediate cause for alarm.. (shrink)
In his article “Constructive Empiricism Now” van Fraassen chooses an extremely interesting example to defend his thesis that scientific theories are only representations, so that the aim of science is to give us reliable, empirically adequate, descriptions of the observable aspects of the world. For him, there is no continuum of observable/unobservable, as he draws a line of distinction at a point that eliminates from his ontology such cases as fields of forces and sub-atomic particles. As a result, he puts (...) forward the position that electronic images in the microscope and subatomic particles are “public hallucinations” and not “real things”. What I thus propose to do is to examine van Fraassen’s anti-realism through the looking class of realism, my aim being to defend a realist view of science: To this purpose, I will focus on two main issues: (a) the question of representations in science and in particular of images we “see” through a microscope and (b) the question of the criteria for defining physical reality. In this context, I will argue that van Fraassen’s definition of the “real” is an anti-realist version of the positivist trend, which cannot fit in the picture of science that emerges today. To understand, thus, the world of physics we need to re-examine our definition of reality and make space for an ontology that goes beyond the well-defined spatio-temporal existence of what van Fraassen calls a “real thing”. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen endorses both common-sense realism — the view, roughly, that the ordinary macroscopic objects that we take to exist actually do exist — and constructive empiricism — the view, roughly, that the aim of science is truth about the observable world. But what happens if common-sense realism and science come into conflict? I argue that it is reasonable to think that they could come into conflict, by giving some motivation for a mental monist solution to the measurement problem (...) of quantum mechanics. I then consider whether, in a situation where science favors the mental monist interpretation, van Fraassen would want to give up common-sense realism or would want to give up science. 1. The Potential Tension Bas van Fraassen is a common-sense realist: Constructive empiricism. (shrink)
Over the last twenty years, Bas van Fraassen has developed a “new epistemology”: an attempt to sail between Bayesianism and traditional epistemology. He calls his own alternative “voluntarism”. A constant pillar of his thought is the thought that rationality involves permission rather than obligation. The present paper aims to offer an appraisal of van Fraassen’s conception of rationality. In section 2, I review the Bayesian structural conception of rationality and argue that it has been found wanting. In sections 3 and (...) 4, I analyse van Fraassen’s voluntarism. I raise some objections about van Fraassen’s reliance on prior opinion and argue that the content of a belief matters to its rationality. In section 5, I criticise van Fraassen’s view that inference to the best explanation is incoherent. Finally, in section 6, I take on van Fraassen’s conception of rationality and show that it is too thin to fully capture rational judgement. (shrink)
In his recent book, The Empirical Stance, Bas van Fraassen forcefully raises the question of what a philosophical position can or should be. He mainly discusses this question with regard to empiricism but his discussion makes it clear that he takes his proposed answer to be generalizable: not only empiricism but philosophical positions in general should be understood as stances rather than dogmata. The first part of this essay is devoted to an examination of van Fraassen’s critique of ‘naïve’ or (...) dogmatic empiricism, which represents an integral part of his argument for ‘stance’ empiricism. It will be argued that, contrary to van Fraassen’s view, not all versions of naïve empiricism run into the problems identified by him. In the second part of the paper the case will be made that, contrary to van Fraassen’s thesis, the stance empiricist is in at least as bad a position as the naïve empiricist with regard to the task of providing a radical critique of metaphysics, which van Fraassen takes to be an essential task that any empiricist should be able to accomplish. The third part of this essay concerns van Fraassen’s general proposal, and examines the question whether a philosophical position can possibly consist in a stance. It will be suggested that this is not the case. With regard to empiricism this has the implication that if one wants to be a philosopher and an empiricist at the same time one needs to subscribe to a form of naïve empiricism. Furthermore, it will be proposed that as a philosopher-empiricist one should want, or, at least, allow some form of metaphysical theorizing to be part of the philosophical enterprise after all. (shrink)
Scientific Realists argue that it would be a miracle if scientific theories were getting more predictive without getting closer to the truth; so they must be getting closer to the truth. Van Fraassen, Laudan et al. argue that owing to the underdetermination of theory by data (UDT) for all we know, it is a miracle, a fluke. So we should not believe in even the approximate truth of theories. I argue that there is a test for who is right: suppose (...) we are at the limit of inquiry. Suppose that we then have all the logically possible theories that are adequate to all the actual data. If they all resembled in their theoretical claims, since one of them must be true, all of them would then resemble it, whichever it is. We would thus be justified in saying they all approximated the truth in the degree to which they co-resembled. If they don't all co-resemble, the SRs are wrong; more predictive theories are not necessarily closer to the theoretical truth. Prior to the limit, if, in spite of our best efforts to the contrary, all the theories we can make adequate to current data tend to co-resemble, we have inductive warrant for thinking more predictive theories are closer to the truth. If they don't resemble, we have inductive warrant for thinking that more predictive theories are not necessarily closer to the truth. (shrink)
I. Introduction “We can and do see the truth about many things: ourselves, others, trees and animals, clouds and rivers—in the immediacy of experience.”1 Absent from Bas van Fraassen’s list of those things we see are paramecia and mitochondria. We do not see such things, van Fraassen has long maintained, because they are unobservable, that is, they are undetectable by means of the unaided senses.2 But notice that these two notions—what we can see in the “immediacy” of experience and what (...) is detectable by means of the unaided senses—are not the same. There is no incoherence in maintaining that the immediacy of experience is capable of disclosing to us truths concerning entities that are not detectable by the naked eye. And so, I claim, it does; science and technology provide us with the means to see things we have never seen before. Some of those things are van Fraassen’s unobservables. That suggestion is nothing new. Grover Maxwell long ago emphasized the continuity between seeing with and without instrumentation.3 Van Fraassen originally provided two responses to Maxwell’s arguments: some things that you can see with instruments you can also see without instruments (and those are the observables); and.. (shrink)
Carneades is a recently proposed formalism for structured argumentation with varying proof standards, inspired by legal reasoning, but more generally applicable. Its distinctive feature is that each statement can be given its own proof standard, which is claimed to allow a more natural account of reasoning under burden of proof than existing formalisms for structured argumentation, in which proof standards are defined globally. In this article, the two formalisms are formally related by translating Carneades into the ASPIC+ framework for structured (...) argumentation. Since ASPIC+ is defined to generate Dung-style abstract argumentation frameworks, this in effect translates Carneades graphs into abstract argumentation frameworks. For this translation, we prove a formal correspondence and show that certain rationality postulates hold. It is furthermore proved that Carneades always induces a unique Dung extension, which is the same in all of Dung's semantics, allowing us to generalise Carneades to cycle-containing structures. (shrink)
Constructive empiricists claim to offer a reconstruction of the aim and practice of science without adopting all the metaphysical commitments of scientific realism. Deflationists about truth boast of the ability to offer a full account of the nature of truth without adopting the metaphysical commitments accompanying substantive accounts. Though the two views would form an attractive package, I argue that the pairing is not possible: constructive empiricism requires a substantive account of truth. I articulate what sort of account of truth (...) and empirical adequacy the constructive empiricist must offer and then show why deflationists cannot uphold such an account. (shrink)
http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2008v12n2p177 Can a constructive empiricist make sense of scientific representation? Usually, a scientific model is an abstract entity (e.g., formulated in set theory), and scientific representation is conceptualized as an intentional relation between scientific models and certain aspects of the world. On this conception, since both the models and the representation relation are abstract, a constructive empiricist, who is not committed to the existence of abstract entities, would be unable to invoke these notions to make sense of scientific representation. In (...) this paper, instead of understanding representation as a relation between abstract entities, I focus on the activity of representing, and argue that it provides a way of making sense of representation within the boundaries of empiricism. The activity of representing doesn’t deal with abstract entities, but with concrete ones, such as inscriptions, templates, and blueprints. In the end, by examining the practice of representing, rather than an artificially reified product—the representation—the constructive empiricist has the resources to make sense of scientific representation in empiricist terms. (shrink)
Abstract State legitimacy is often said to have two aspects: an internal and an external one. Internally, a legitimate state has the right to rule over its subjects. Externally, it has a right that outsiders not interfere with its domestic governance. But what is the relation between these two aspects? In this paper, I defend a conception of legitimacy according to which these two aspects are related in an importantly asymmetrical manner. In particular, a legitimate state’s external right to rule (...) affords it protections that include and go beyond what its internal right to rule enables it to do. This asymmetrical view, I argue, is preferable to its two main rivals: the view that a state’s internal and external legitimacy are separate issues, and the view that internal and external legitimacy are mirroring. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-28 DOI 10.1007/s10982-012-9132-7 Authors Bas van der Vossen, Philosophy Department, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, USA Journal Law and Philosophy Online ISSN 1573-0522 Print ISSN 0167-5249. (shrink)
Metaphysical inquiry often exemplifies characteristics that do not meet with approval in the estimations of empiricists. Most distasteful to them, it seems, is a perceived distance between many of the speculations of metaphysics − about things such as causation, laws of nature, and unobservable stuff more generally − and the sorts of investigations they take to constitute proper empirical inquiry. Like any over-arching movement in the history of philosophy, empiricism has recognized different interlocutors at different times, but it appears that (...) all share a fascination for this kind of speculation. In relatively recent times, the influence of logical positivism encouraged a neglect of metaphysical issues in discussions of general philosophy of science that lasted well past the demise of positivism itself. Metaphysical disputes surfaced nonetheless, of course, both there and in the philosophy of particular sciences: space and time, evolutionary biology, quantum mechanics, and so on. Among post-positivist philosophers of science, no one has done more to reformulate the challenge of empiricism to metaphysical speculation than Bas van Fraassen. My goal here is to suggest that one may accept the many gifts of his reformulation of empiricism, and yet find value in the metaphysical investigations he asks us to sacrifice in return. At first glance, the prospects for having so much cake and eating it must seem dim. Those who would offer strict constraints regarding knowledge based on experience are lined up against those who are at least partly at home in the armchairs of reason. Is there not an unbridgeable chasm, here? Perhaps there is, but things are not as simple as my caricature would suggest. For one thing, it is not entirely clear what the relevant contrasts are here between what I have labelled ‘metaphysics’ and ‘empiricism’. It is not clear, for example, what it means for some philosophical speculation to take place ‘at a distance’ from empirical inquiry.. (shrink)
Scientific representation: A long journey from pragmatics to pragmatics Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9465-5 Authors James Ladyman, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, 9 Woodland Rd, Bristol, BS8 1TB UK Otávio Bueno, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA Mauricio Suárez, Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, Complutense University of Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain Bas C. van Fraassen, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Journal Metascience Online (...) ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
The physics and metaphysics of identity and individuality Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9463-7 Authors Don Howard, Department of Philosophy and Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA Bas C. van Fraassen, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Otávio Bueno, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA Elena Castellani, Department of Philosophy, University of Florence, Via Bolognese 52, 50139 (...) Florence, Italy Laura Crosilla, Department of Pure Mathematics, School of Mathematics, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT UK Steven French, Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK Décio Krause, Department of Philosophy, Federal University of Santa Catarina, 88040-900 Campus Trindade, Florianópolis, SC Brazil Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
Bas C. van Fraassen Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Princeton UniversityÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â My topics today are the relation between science and myth, and the possibility of empiricism as an approach to life as well as to science.Â But philosophy is a thoroughly historical enterprise, a dialogue that continues in the present but is always almost entirely (...) shaped by our past.Â So I will devote the first half of this talk to setting the historical stage. (shrink)
Bas C. van Fraassen, one of the world's foremost contributors to philosophical logic and the philosophy of science, here undertakes a fresh consideration of these questions and offers a program for renewal of the empiricist tradition.
Bas van Fraassen claims that constructive empiricism strikes a balance between the empiricist's commitments to epistemic modesty -- that one's opinion should extend no further beyond the deliverances of experience than is necessary -- and to the rationality of science. In "Should the Empiricist be a Constructive Empiricist?" I argued that if the constructive empiricist follows through on her commitment to epistemic modesty she will find herself adopting a much more extreme position than van Fraassen suggests. Van Fraassen and Bradley (...) Monton have recently responded. My purpose here is to contest their response. The goal is not merely the rebuttal of a rebuttal; there is a lesson to learn concerning the realist/anti-realist dialectic generated by van Fraassen's view. (shrink)
, I argued that Bas van Fraassen's constructive empiricism was undermined in various ways by his antirealism about modality. Here I offer some comments and responses to the reply to my arguments by Bradley Monton and van Fraassen . In particular, after making some minor points, I argue that Monton and van Fraassen have not done enough to show that the context dependence of counterfactuals renders their truth conditions non-objective, and I also argue that adopting modal realism does after all (...) undermine the motivation for constructive empiricism. Introduction Underdetermination and epistemic modesty Counterfactual observations Modal realism and constructive empiricism. (shrink)
What is not often noted about Bas van Fraassen’s distinctive approach to the scientific realism issue is that constructive empiricism, as he defines it, seems to involve a distinctively realist stance in regard to large parts of natural science. This apparent defection from the ranks of his more uncompromisingly anti‐realist colleagues raises many questions. Is he really leaning to realism here? If he is, why is this not more widely noted? And, more important, if he is, is he entitled to (...) this shyly realist concession? Does his many‐pronged attack on what he sees as the main arguments in support of realism leave him with the wherewithal? (shrink)
I. Introduction “We can and do see the truth about many things: ourselves, others, trees and animals, clouds and rivers—in the immediacy of experience.”1 Absent from Bas van Fraassen’s list of those things we see are paramecia and mitochondria. We do not see such things, van Fraassen has long maintained, because they are unobservable, that is, they are undetectable by means of the unaided senses.2 But notice that these two notions—what we can see in the “immediacy” of experience and what (...) is detectable by means of the unaided senses—are not the same. There is no incoherence in maintaining that the immediacy of experience is capable of disclosing to us truths concerning entities that are not detectable by the naked eye. And so, I claim, it does; science and technology provide us with the means to see things we have never seen before. Some of those things are van Fraassen’s unobservables. That suggestion is nothing new. Grover Maxwell long ago emphasized the continuity between seeing with and without instrumentation.3 Van Fraassen originally provided two responses to Maxwell’s arguments: some things that you can see with instruments you can also see without instruments (and those are the observables); and. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen has recently argued for a "dissolution" of Hilary Putnam's well-known model-theoretic argument. In this paper I argue that, as it stands, van Fraassen's reply to Putnam is unsuccessful. Nonetheless, it suggests the form a successful response might take.
This article criticizes the attempts by Bas van Fraassen and Michael Friedman to address the challenge to rationality posed by the Kuhnian analysis of scientific revolutions. In the paper, I argue that van Fraassen's solution, which invokes a Sartrean theory of emotions to account for radical change, does not amount to justifying rationally the advancement of science but, rather, despite his protestations to the contrary, is an explanation of how change is effected. Friedman's approach, which appeals to philosophical developments at (...) a meta-theoretical level, does not really address the problem of rationality as posed by Kuhn's work. Instead of showing how, despite revolutions, scientific development is, indeed, rational, he gives a transcendental account of rational scientific progress. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen’s empiricist reading of Perrin’s achievement invites the question: whose doubts about atoms did Perrin put to rest? This comment recontextualizes the argument and applies the notion of empirical grounding to some contemporary work in behavioral biology.
In What is a Law of Nature? (1983) David Armstrong promotes a theory of laws according to which laws of nature are contingent relations of necessitation between universals. The metaphysics Armstrong develops uses deterministic causal laws as paradigmatic cases of laws, but he thinks his metaphysics explicates other sorts of laws too, including probabilistic laws, like that of the half-life of radium being 1602 years. Bas van Fraassen (1987) gives seven arguments for why Armstrong’s theory of laws is incapable of (...) explicating probabilistic laws. The main thrust of the arguments is that Armstrong’s metaphysical apparatus serves to drive up the initial probability values stated by probabilistic laws. Armstrong replies .. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen has formulated a semantical or model theoretic analysis of the structure of scientific theories. He contrasts his semantical approach with the syntactic approach of the logical positivists and argues that his theory is preferable on a number of grounds. The aims of this paper are threefold. First, a brief description of van Fraassen's approach is presented. Secondly, his theory is compared with that of the logical positivists and, in so doing, the virtues that van Fraassen believes recommend (...) his theory over the positivist theory are identified. Finally, an objection that is positivist in spirit is raised which suggests that, epistemically, his account is indistinguishable from classical historicism. (shrink)
http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2008v12n2p155 Bas van Fraassen advocates a “Copenhagen variant” of the modal interpretation of quantum mechanics. However, he believes that the Copenhagen approach to measurement is not fully satisfactory, since it seems to rule out the possibility of providing a physical account of the observation process. This was also what John Wheeler had in mind when, in the mid-1950’s, he sponsored the “relative state” formulation proposed by his student Hugh Everett. Wheeler, who considered himself an orthodox Bohrian, tried to convince Bohr (...) to accept the improvement of the Copenhagen approach represented in his eyes by Everett’s proposal. This attempt gave rise to a lively debate, which has been only recently documented, and which provides an interesting framework for the appraisal of van Fraassen’s own programme. (shrink)
Hilary Putnam and Bas C. van Fraassen have been two pivotal figures in the scientific realism debate in the second half of the twentieth century. Their initial perspectives were antithetical—defining an archetypical scientific realist position (Putnam) and a major empiricism-inspired alternative to scientific realism (van Fraassen). But as the years (and the philosophical debates) went on, there have been important lines of convergence in the stances of these two thinkers, mostly motivated by an increasing flirting with pragmatism and by a (...) growing disdain towards metaphysics. Putnam’s views went through two major turns, in a philosophical journey he aptly described as taking him “from realism back to realism” (1994, 494). Being an arch scientific realist in the 1960s and the early 1970s, he moved to a trenchant critique of metaphysical realism and the adoption of a verificationist-‘internalist’ approach (what he called pragmatic or internal realism), which he upheld roughly until the end of the twentieth century. Then he adopted a direct realist outlook, what he called “common sense” or “natural realism”, which was based on the denial of at least some of the tenets of his internalist period (e.g., the abandonment of a verificationist conception of truth), while at the same time tried to avoid “the phantasies of metaphysical realism”. It is (almost) impossible to cover all aspects of Putnam’s realist endeavours. I will therefore focus on his changing views about scientific realism. Van Fraassen occupied a space in the scientific realism debate that was left vacant by Putnam’s critique of fictionalism and verificationism, viz., an agnostic stance towards the ontological commitments of literally understood scientific theories. His positive alternative to realism, Constructive Empiricism (CE), was meant to be a position suitable for post-positivist empiricists, that is philosophers who a) take for granted the empiricist dictum that all (substantive) knowledge stems from experience; b) take science seriously (but not uncritically) as the paradigm of rational inquiry; and c) take to heart all criticism of the positivist approach to science, bound as it was to issues concerning the language of theories and the privileging of an alleged theory-neutral observational vocabulary.. (shrink)
This paper investigates the nature of scientific realism. I begin by considering the anomalous fact that Bas van Fraassen’s account of scientific realism is strikingly similar to Arthur Fine’s account of scientific non-realism. To resolve this puzzle, I demonstrate how the two theorists understand the nature of truth and its connection to ontology, and how that informs their conception of the realism debate. I then argue that the debate is much better captured by the theory of truthmaking, and not by (...) any particular theory of truth. To be a scientific realist is to adopt a realism-relevant account of what makes true the scientific theories one accepts. The truthmaking approach restores realism’s metaphysical core—distancing itself from linguistic conceptions of the debate—and thereby offers a better characterization of what is at stake in the question of scientific realism. (shrink)
In his influential criticism of scientific realism, Bas van Fraassen assumes that this doctrine is incompatible with empiricism, according to which the sole ultimate basis of knowledge is experience. This claim has been generally accepted in the contemporary literature in philosophy of science. Thus, the very distinction between scientific realism and empiricism is often forgotten, the term 'empiricism' being now widely used to designate a range of anti-realist positions, such as van Fraassen's "constructive empiricism". In this paper it is argued, (...) first, that empiricism, in the traditional and proper sense of the word, is a thesis about the problem of the foundations of knowledge, and should therefore be clearly distinguished from anti realism, which concems the issue of the extension of knowledge. It is then conceded that the main arguments for scientific realism do indeed require that extra-empirical characteristics of scientific theories, such as simplicity and explanatory power, should be ascribed epistemic weight. Although this point lends support to van Fraassen's claim, it is indicated here that his constructive empiricism is threatened by the same kind of epistemological objections which he raises against his opponents. Like some other scientific anti-realists, van Fraassen avowedly embraces realism concerning ordinary material objects; but it is not clear that this form of anti-realism remains tenable when explanatory power, simplicity, etc are regarded as merely pragmatic, non-epistemic virtues. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against Peter van Inwagen’s claim (in “Free Will Remains a Mystery”), that agent-causal views of free will could do nothing to solve the problem of free will (specifically, the problem of chanciness). After explaining van Inwagen’s argument, I argue that he does not consider all possible manifestations of the agent-causal position. More importantly, I claim that, in any case, van Inwagen appears to have mischaracterized the problem in some crucial ways. Once we are clear on (...) the true nature of the problem of chanciness, agent-causal views do much to eradicate it. (shrink)
The anti-reductionist who wants to preserve the causal efficacy of mental phenomena faces several problems in regard to mental causation, i.e. mental events which cause other events, arising from her desire to accept the ontological primacy of the physical and at the same time save the special character of the mental. Psychology tries to persuade us of the former, appealing thereby to the results of experiments carried out in neurology; the latter is, however, deeply rooted in our everyday actions and (...) beliefs and despite the constant opposition of science still very much alive. Difficulties, however, arise from a combination of two claims that are widely accepted in philosophy of mind, namely, physical monism and mental realism, the acceptance of which leads us to the greatest problem of mental causation: the problem of causal exclusion. Since physical causes alone are always sufficient for physical effects mental properties are excluded from causal explanations of our behaviour, which makes them “epiphenomenal”. The article introduces Van Gulick’s solution to the exclusion problem which tries to prove that physical properties, in contrast to mental properties, do not have as much of a privileged status with respect to event causation as usually ascribed. Therefore, it makes no sense to say that physical properties are causally relevant whereas mental properties are not. This is followed by my objection to his argument for levelling mental and physical properties with respect to causation of events. I try to show that Van Gulick’s argument rests on a premise that no serious physicalist can accept. (shrink)
Van Heijenoort’s main contribution to history and philosophy of modern logic was his distinction between two basic views of logic, first, the absolutist, or universalist, view of the founding fathers, Frege, Peano, and Russell, which dominated the first, classical period of history of modern logic, and, second, the relativist, or model-theoretic, view, inherited from Boole, Schröder, and Löwenheim, which has dominated the second, contemporary period of that history. In my paper, I present the man Jean van Heijenoort (Sect. 1); then (...) I describe his way of arguing for the second view (Sect. 2); and finally I come down in favor of the first view (Sect. 3). There, I specify the version of universalism for which I am prepared to argue (Sect. 3, introduction). Choosing ZFC to play the part of universal, logical (in a nowadays forgotten sense) system, I show, through an example, how the usual model theory can be naturally given its proper place, from the universalist point of view, in the logical framework of ZFC; I outline another, not rival but complementary, semantics for admissible extensions of ZFC in the very same logical framework; I propose a way to get universalism out of the predicaments in which universalists themselves believed it to be (Sect. 3.1). Thus, if universalists of the classical period did not, in fact, construct these semantics, it was not that their universalism forbade them, in principle, to do so. The historical defeat of universalism was not technical in character. Neither was it philosophical. Indeed, it was hardly more than the victory of technicism over the very possibility of a philosophical dispute (Sect. 3.2). (shrink)
Van Heijenoort’s account of the historical development of modern logic was composed in 1974 and first published in 1992 with an introduction by his former student. What follows is a new edition with a revised and expanded introduction and additional notes.
The paper aims at drawing the main lines of a reflection about architectonic space, starting from the comparison between two hypothesis, as much as ever different: Theodor Lipps’ spatial aesthetics and Hans van der Laan’s elemental theory. The emphasis given by both authors to the intersection between directions and way, but also to the mutual subordination between thing and space, allows to rewrite the obituary of architecture as a spatial art, according to which the Modern Style has turned the spatiality (...) into its specular visibility, into the spaciousness, into the indefinite continuity of the Bigness. (shrink)
http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2008v12n1p49 The aim of this article is to offer a rejoinder to an argument against scientific realism put forward by van Fraassen, based on theoretical considerations regarding microphysics. At a certain stage of his general attack to scientific realism, van Fraassen argues, in contrast to what realists typically hold, that empirical regularities should sometimes be regarded as “brute facts”, which do not ask for explanation in terms of deeper, unobservable mechanisms. The argument from microphysics formulated by van Fraassen is based (...) on the claim that in microphysics the demand for explanation leads to a demand for the so-called hidden-variable theories, which “runs contrary to at least one major school of thought in twentieth-century physics”. It is shown here that this argument does not represent an insurmountable obstacle to scientific realism, not even when a series of important theoretical and experimental results against hidden-variable theories — and not merely a conflict with a certain school of thought—is taken into account. (shrink)
I present an argument that encapsulates the view that theory is underdetermined by evidence. I show that if we accept Williamson's equation of evidence and knowledge, then this argument is question-begging. I examine ways of defenders of underdetermination may avoid this criticism. I also relate this argument and my critique to van Fraassen's constructive empiricism.
Metaphysicians speak of laws of nature in terms of necessity and universality; scientists, in terms of symmetry and invariance. In this book van Fraassen argues that no metaphysical account of laws can succeed. He analyzes and rejects the arguments that there are laws of nature, or that we must believe there are, and argues that we should disregard the idea of law as an adequate clue to science. After exploring what this means for general epistemology, the author develops the empiricist (...) view of science as a construction of models to represent the phenomena. (shrink)
Probabilism in epistemology does not have to be of the Bayesian variety. The probabilist represents a person''s opinion as a probability function; the Bayesian adds that rational change of opinion must take the form of conditionalizing on new evidence. I will argue that this is the correct procedure under certain special conditions. Those special conditions are important, and instantiated for example in scientific experimentation, but hardly universal. My argument will be related to the much maligned Reflection Principle (van Fraassen, 1984, (...) 1995), and partly inspired by the work of Brian Skyrms (1987). (shrink)
After introducing the empiricist point of view in philosophy of science, and the concepts and methods of the semantic approach to scientific theories, van Fraassen discusses quantum theory in three stages. He first examines the question of whether and how empirical phenomena require a non-classical theory, and what sort of theory they require. He then discusses the mathematical foundations of quantum theory with special reference to developments in the modelling of interaction, composite systems, and measurement. Finally, the author broaches the (...) main questions of interpretation. After offering a critique of earlier interpretations, he develops a new one--the modal interpretation--which attempts to stay close to the original Copenhagen ideas without implying a radical incompleteness in quantum theory. He again gives special attention to the character of composite, many-body systems and especially to the peculiar character of assemblies of identical particles in quantum statistics. (shrink)
Considering Pragma-Dialectics honors the monumental contributions of one of the foremost international figures in current argumentation scholarship: Frans van Eemeren. The volume presents the research efforts of his colleagues and addresses how their work relates to the pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation with which van Eemeren’s name is so intimately connected. This tribute serves to highlight the varied approaches to the study of argumentation and is destined to inspire researchers to advance scholarship in the field far into the (...) future. Replete with contributions from highly-esteemed academics in argumentation study, chapters in this volume address such topics as: *Pragma-dialectic versus epistemic theories of arguing and arguments; *Pragma-dialectics and self-advocacy in physician-patient interactions; *The pragma-dialectical analysis of the ad hominem family; *Rhetoric, dialectic, and the functions of argument; and *The semantics of reasonableness. As an exceptional volume and a fitting tribute, this work will be of interest to all argumentation scholars considering the astute insights and scholarly legacy of Frans van Eemeren. (shrink)
Analysis shows that statements of ability are disguised conditionals. More exactly, the correct analysis of 'X could have done A' is 'If X h decided (chosen, willed ...) to do A, X would have done A'. Therefore having acted freely--having been able to act otherwise than one fact did--is compatible with determinism (with the causal determination of one's acts).
Mijn wetenschappelijke bijdrage sluit aan bij het stuk van Jan Willem Klop in deze zelfde afscheidsbundel, dat ik van Jan Willem onder embargo te lezen heb gekregen. Je zult je herinneren dat Jan Willem in de CWI lezing ter gelegenheid van zijn eredoctoraat kort refereerde aan de Thue Morse reeks. Noem deze reeks M . Jan Willem gaf de versie die start met 1. Noem het resultaat van omwisselen van nullen en enen in de Thue Morse reeks M . De (...) reeks M is wat je krijgt als je het Thue Morse proces start met 0. (shrink)
Diachronic Dutch book arguments seem to support both conditionalization and Bas van Fraassen's Reflection principle. But the Reflection principle is vulnerable to numerous counterexamples. This essay addresses two questions: first, under what circumstances should an agent obey Reflection, and second, should the counterexamples to Reflection make us doubt the Dutch book for conditionalization? In response to the first question, this essay formulates a new "Qualified Reflection" principle, which states that an agent should obey Reflection only if he or she is (...) certain that he or she will conditionalize on veridical evidence in the future. Qualified Reflection follows from the probability calculus together with a few idealizing assumptions. The essay then formulates a "Distorted Reflection" principle that approximates Reflection even in cases where the agent is not quite certain that he or she will conditionalize on veridical evidence. In response to the second question, the essay argues that contrary to a common misconception, not all Dutch books dramatize incoherence—some dramatize a less blameworthy sort of epistemic frailty that the essay calls "self-doubt." The distinction between Dutch books that dramatize incoherence and those that dramatize self-doubt cross-cuts the distinction between synchronic and diachronic Dutch books. The essay explains why the Dutch book for conditionalization reveals true incoherence, whereas the Dutch book for Reflection reveals only self-doubt. (shrink)
How far, if at all, do our intrapersonal and our interpersonal epistemic obligations run in parallel? This paper treats the question as addressing the stability of doxastic commitment in the two dimensions. In the background lies an analogy between doxastic and practical commitment. We’ll pursue the question of doxastic stability by coining a doxastic analogue of Gregory Kavka’s much-discussed toxin case. In this new case, you foresee that you will rationally abandon a doxastic commitment by undergoing a shift in the (...) context in which you doxastically deliberate. The case reveals an important stability condition on doxastic commitment that plays no role in cases modeled on Ulysses and the Sirens, the scenario that has shaped previous attempts to draw an analogy between doxastic and practical commitment. The stability condition thereby revealed is not diachronic -- it does not involve a shift in belief -- but we can construct specifically diachronic cases that reveal an important intrapersonal epistemic obligation. This obligation arises when you expect the shift in belief by ‘projecting’ yourself into a future doxastic context -- thus vindicating a restricted, but only this restricted, application of Bas van Fraassen’s Reflection Principle. Despite some important differences, we can use these diachronic cases as a model for interpersonal cases that reveal an important role for doxastic context in the epistemology of disagreement. But the roles played by projection and context in disagreement ensure that there is no general obligation to be responsive to the opinion of an epistemic peer who disagrees with you. (shrink)