Why be Hanged for Even a Lamb?

Nancy Cartwright

in Images of Empiricism

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780199218844
Published online January 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191711732 | DOI:

Series: Mind Association Occasional Series

 Why be Hanged for Even a Lamb?

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This chapter examines van Fraassen's motivation for restricting his scientific theoretical commitments to claims about observables. Many critics have argued that the observable/unobservable distinction van Fraassen draws on is either an illegitimate distinction, or can't play the important philosophical role van Fraassen wants it to. The importance of this distinction is discussed. It is argued that what we fundamentally care about is what we will experience under the possible courses of action open to us, and hence we have a (non-epistemic) reason to try to control what we experience. This gives us special reason to form beliefs about what we are capable of observing.

Keywords: Bas van Fraassen; observables; Paul Churchland; experience; beliefs

Chapter.  5735 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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