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Constructive Empiricism: Epistemology and the Philosophy of Science Hardcover – September 15, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0230247536 ISBN-10: 0230247539

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (September 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230247539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230247536
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,777,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

PAUL DICKEN is a Junior Research Fellow in Philosophy at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, UK. He is an Affiliated Lecturer for the Faculty of Philosophy, Director of Studies in Philosophy at Pembroke College and Director of Studies in History and Philosophy of Science at Churchill College.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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The audience for this book is professional philosophers of science and graduate students in that field. As the title suggests, it's a sympathetic review of van Fraassen's approach to philosophy of science and its major critics. Van Fraassen's recommends that we accept, rather than believe, what our scientific theories say about unobservable objects. Dicken urges that we ought to take the same attitude - acceptance rather than belief - towards abstract objects such as possible worlds and mathematical models.

Dicken argues that belief and acceptance are entirely distinct attitudes, which cut orthogonally. Acceptance doesn't entail any degree of belief at all. We therefore need only accept the questionable abstract objects and do not have to believe them.

This idea is only developed, though, in the final chapter of this short book. I would have liked to hear more about it and what it involves. Can we, for example, even accept theories about observable objects, while we do not believe in them? If so, then Dicken should say more about why his position is anti-skeptical. Dicken addresses those who allege that acceptance and belief are only verbally different. I should have liked a little more, though, on what it is that _does_ indicate belief. While this is not a book on the philosophy of mind, the very wide scope accorded to acceptance makes this criticism look suspiciously telling, in spite of the replies to it. I also found the book less easy to follow than some others of its kind.

Dicken's position is very interesting in other fields, such as philosophy of mathematics. The book shows a comprehensive and discriminating grasp of the literature. And it moves the debate forward in potentially very fruitful ways.
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