constructive empiricism

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A position in the philosophy of science associated with the 20th-century Canadian philosopher Bas van Fraassen (The Scientific Image, 1980). Constructive empiricism divides science into observation statements and theory statements. It holds that the latter are capable of strict truth and falsity, but maintains that the appropriate attitude is not to believe them, but only to accept them at best as empirically adequate. It is often regarded as a variety of pragmatism or instrumentalism, although more orthodox varieties of those positions deny that theoretical statements have truth-values. A related view is held by Vaihinger, who, however, thinks that we can be sure that theoretical statements are actually false.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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