Lauener Foundation for Analytical Philosophy
Wednesday 05 September - Thursday 06 September 2018
8th International Lauener Symposium on Analytical Philosophy
on Themes from Bas van Fraassen
Professor Finnur Dellsén
(Inland Norway University)
Expanding Our Grasp: Constructive Empiricism and Augmented Observation
Manifestationalism holds that science aims only to give us theories that are correct about what has been observed thus far. Several philosophers, including Bas van Fraassen, have argued that manifestationalism cannot make sense of the scientific impetus to make new observations, since such observations only risk turning a manifestationally adequate theory into an inadequate one. This paper argues that a strikingly similar objection applies to van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism, the view that science aims only to find theories that are empirically adequate. Roughly, the objection is that constructive empiricism cannot make sense of the scientific impetus to expand the limits of what can be observed, since such expansions only risk turning an empirically adequate theory into an inadequate one.