Measurement and Metaphysics in van Fraassen’s Scientific Representation

Axiomathes 25 (1):117-131 (2015)

Authors
Sergio A. Gallegos-Ordorica
John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)
Abstract
Van Fraassen has presented in Scientific Representation an attractive notion of measurement as an important part of the empiricist structuralism that he endorses. However, he has been criticized on the grounds that both his notion of measurement and his empiricist structuralism force him to do the very thing he objects to in other philosophical projects—to endorse a controversial metaphysics. This paper proposes a defense of van Fraassen by arguing that his project is indeed a ‘metaphysical’ project, but one which is very similar to Strawson’s ‘descriptive metaphysics’; if this is the case, van Fraassen’s project may be taken, following recent suggestions made by Ney and Paul, as a form of metaphysics that can potentially make a crucial contribution to scientific inquiry.
Keywords van Fraassen  Strawson  Measurement  Descriptive metaphysics  Neo-Kantianism
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DOI 10.1007/s10516-014-9254-7
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