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Images of Science Essays on Realism and Empiricism, With a Reply from Bas. C. Van Fraassen cover
  • ISBN: 9780226106540
  • ISBN10: 0226106543

Images of Science Essays on Realism and Empiricism, With a Reply from Bas. C. Van Fraassen

by Paul Churchland

  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 01/01/1986
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Description
Images of Science collects new and recent essays by some of the most distinguished philosophers of science in the world. The focus of the essays is the broad conflict between realism and antirealism in our interpretation of the aims and products of the scientific endeavor. In particular, the focus is the antirealist position articulated by Bas C. van Fraassen in his book The Scientific Image. Ten of the essays here are by scientific realists of one stripe or another, and all are addressed to various aspects of van Fraassen's critique of realism and to his positive alternative theory, constructive empiricism. The final and very substantial essay, by van Fraassen himself, is a systematic set of replies to his assembled critics.

The issue of realism versus antirealism lies at the intersection of a great many other issues in contemporary philosophy of science. The reader will find in this book extended and current discussions of the nature and significance of the distinction between the observable and the unobservable; of the relative virtues and importance of the semantic versus the syntactic conception of theories; of competing theoretical explanations for the prima facie success of science; of the metaphysical and cognitive presuppositions of various forms of realism; of the proper goals of science; of the cognitive significance of the so-called "superempirical" virtues, such as simplicity, explanatory power, and global consilience; of the importance of quantum physics for realism; and of the place of science in the human endeavor as a whole.

Readers will also find that conceptions of realism have become fragmented into a variety of competing forms, some conservative and somequiteradical. This collection is thus a many-cornered debate rather than just a bipolar conflict. The newest forms of realism are being forged in these essays, and van Fraassen has articulated a response to each of them. Collectively, the essays provide the most comprehensive and current ana

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