Kusch and van Fraassen on microscopic experience

Alessio Gava
Universidade Estadual Do Paraná
Martin Kusch has recently defended Bas van Fraassen’s controversial view on microscopes, according to which these devices are not ‘windows on an invisible world’, but rather ‘image generators’. The two authors also claim that, since in a microscopic detection it is not possible to empirically investigate the geometrical relations between all the elements involved, one is entitled to maintain an agnostic stance about the reality of the entity allegedly represented by the produced image. In this paper I argue that, contrary to what Kusch maintains, this might not be a neutral way to render scientific evidence. Moreover, a constructive empiricist can support a realist interpretation of microscopic images. In fact, constructive empiricism and van Fraassen’s own anti-realism do not necessarily amount to the same thing.
Keywords constructive empiricism  Kusch  microscope  theory-ladenness of experience  van Fraassen  observation  observability  anti-realism  scientific realism
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