Bas van Fraassen

Anyone familiar with this guy?

I think he’s still alive.

He coined the term “constructive empiricism”.

He wrote a book about philosophy of science.

He hung out with David Lewis and Saul Kripke.

I think I’m going to start reading more of his work.

Tell me something about him that I don’t know.

He wrote…
Constructive Empiricism and Modal Nominalism


James Ladyman has argued that constructive empiricism entails modal realism, and that this renders contructive empiricism untenable. We maintain that constructive empiricism is compatible with modal nominalism. Although the central term “observable” has been analyzed in terms on counterfactuals and in general counterfactuals do not have objective truth conditions, the property of being observable is not a modal property, and hence there are objective, non-modal facts about what is observable. Both modal nominalism and constructive empiricism require clarification in the face of Ladyman’s argument. But we also argue that, even if Ladyman were right that constructive empiricism entails modal realism, this would not be a problem for constructive empiricism.

I don’t see what Constructive Empricism adds to the mix that instrumentalism/pragmatism doesn’t, but I do see that it opens scientific research up to the sort of post-modern critique that yields worthless hypotheses. So I can’t say I’m a fan. But thanks for introducing me to it.

I’m checking into “scientific representation- paradoxes of perception” (should be out this month)