Van Fraassen's Semanticism

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.
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