•  307
    What can Bas believe? Musgrave and Van Fraassen on observability
    with Peter Lipton
    Analysis 66 (3). 2006.
    There is a natural objection to the epistemic coherence of Bas van Fraassen’s use of a distinction between the observable and unobservable in his constructive empiricism, an objection that has been raised with particular clarity by Alan Musgrave. We outline Musgrave’s objection, and then consider how one might interpret and evaluate van Fraassen’s response. According to the constructive empiricist, observability for us is measured with respect to the epistemic limits of human beings qua measurin…Read more
  •  103
    In this journal, Peter Lipton and I discussed Musgrave's objection that the constructive empiricist cannot consistently maintain his own distinction between the observable and the unobservable, and van Fraassen's initial reply. We considered several possible interpretations of van Fraassen, and expressed misgivings about each. Muller and van Fraassen have consequently clarified the official constructive empiricist response to Musgrave, although some issues still remain.According to Muller and va…Read more
  •  79
    Constructive Empiricism and the Metaphysics of Modality
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (3): 605-612. 2007.
    James Ladyman ([2000]) argues that constructive empiricism is untenable because it cannot adequately account for modal statements about observability. In this paper, I attempt to resist Ladyman's conclusion, arguing that the constructive empiricist can grant his modal discourse objective, theory-independent truth-conditions, yet without compromising his empiricism
  •  70
    Constructive empiricism and the vices of voluntarism
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies 17 (2). 2009.
    Constructive empiricism - as formulated by Bas van Fraassen - makes no epistemological claims about the nature of science. Rather, it is a view about the aim of science, to be situated within van Fraassen's broader voluntarist epistemology. Yet while this epistemically minimalist framework may have various advantages in defending the epistemic relevance of constructive empiricism, I show how it also has various disadvantages in maintaining its internal coherence.
  •  63
    Tolerance and Voluntarism
    Philosophical Papers 42 (1). 2013.
    Carnap's mature philosophy of science is an attempt to dissolve the scientific realism debate altogether as a philosophical pseudo-question. His argument depends upon a logico-semantic thesis regarding the structure of a scientific theory, and more importantly, a meta-ontological thesis regarding the explication of existence claims. The latter commits Carnap to a distinction between the analytic and the synthetic, which was allegedly refuted by Quine. The contemporary philosophy of science has t…Read more
  •  59
    As part of his wider critique of the credibility of miraculous testimony, Hume also offers a rather curious argument as to the mutual detriment of conflicting testimony for the miracles of contrary religious worldviews. Scholarship on this aspect of Hume’s reasoning has debated whether or not the considerations are to be understood as essentially probabilistic, and as to whether or not a probabilistic interpretation of the argument is logically valid. The consensus would appear to offer a positi…Read more
  •  46
    Normativity, the base-rate fallacy, and some problems for retail realism
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (4): 563-570. 2013.
    Recent literature in the scientific realism debate has been concerned with a particular species of statistical fallacy concerning base-rates, and the worry that no matter how predictively successful our contemporary scientific theories may be, this will tell us absolutely nothing about the likelihood of their truth if our overall sample space contains enough empirically adequate theories that are nevertheless false. In response, both realists and anti-realists have switched their focus from gene…Read more
  •  28
    Can the constructive empiricist be a nominalist? Quasi-truth, commitment and consistency
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (2): 191-209. 2006.
    In this paper, I explore Rosen’s ‘transcendental’ objection to constructive empiricism—the argument that in order to be a constructive empiricist, one must be ontologically committed to just the sort of abstract, mathematical objects constructive empiricism seems committed to denying. In particular, I assess Bueno’s ‘partial structures’ response to Rosen, and argue that such a strategy cannot succeed, on the grounds that it cannot provide an adequate metalogic for our scientific discourse. I con…Read more
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  •  21
    Conditions may apply
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2): 290-293. 2008.