Journal Article

Contra Ladyman: What Really is Right with Constructive Empiricism

Joseph F. Hanna

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 55, issue 4, pages 767-777
Published in print December 2004 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online December 2004 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/55.4.767
Contra Ladyman: What Really is Right with Constructive Empiricism

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James Ladyman ([2000]) argues ‘what's really wrong with constructive empiricism’ is that ‘it requires that there be an objective modal distinction between the observable and the unobservable.’ My intent is to counter Ladyman's claim that the irreducibly modal character of empirical adequacy is something that is ‘really wrong with constructive empiricism’. I argue that disposition concepts refer to non-modal properties of types rather than to modal properties of tokens of those types. Solubility, for example, is an ‘occurrent’, though unobservable, property of a type of substance (involving the structure of associated atoms); and observability is, similarly, an ‘occurrent’, though unobservable, property of a type of event (involving the structure of associated physical systems). Empirical adequacy, like truth, is an objective, semantic notion; the empirical adequacy of a theory depends upon all actual tokens of the relevant observable type, not just upon the tokens that have actually been observed.

Introduction

The typical character of disposition concepts

Confirmational versus semantic empirical adequacy

Conclusion

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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