Philosophy of Science 68 (3):S176-S186 (2001)

Authors
William F. Brewer
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Abstract
We use evidence from cognitive psychology and the history of science to examine the issue of the theory-ladenness of perceptual observation. This evidence shows that perception is theory-laden, but that it is only strongly theory-laden when the perceptual evidence is ambiguous or degraded, or when it requires a difficult perceptual judgment. We argue that debates about the theory-ladenness issue have focused too narrowly on the issue of perceptual experience, and that a full account of the scientific process requires an examination of theory-ladenness in attention, perception, data interpretation, data production, memory, and scientific communication. We conclude that the evidence for theory-ladenness does not lead to a relativist account of scientific knowledge
Keywords Evidence  Knowledge  Observation  Perception  Science  Theory
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DOI 10.1086/392907
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