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The Scientific Image (Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy) 1st Edition

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198244271
ISBN-10: 0198244274
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Editorial Reviews


"An excellent extreé to the current debates on this topic, as seen by van Fraassenn who is probably the most direct and severe opponent of scientific realism."--Review of Metaphysics

"A most useful and stimulating book. It brings together some of the main strands in the 'dialectic' of post-positivist analytic philosophy, and moreover, it does this with lucidity, charm, erudition, and great intelligence....Would make an excellent text for a middle to upper-level course in contemporary philosophy of science."--Journal of Philosophy

"Would make an excellent introduction to the philosophical issues clustering around scientific realism for undergraduates if set in conjunction with the recent realist literature.

"Important not only for its contributions to special topics such as the theory of explanation and the use of probability, but important also for its detailed and sustained critique of scientific realism."--Philosophy of Science

About the Author

Bas. C. van Fraassen is at Princeton University.


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Product Details

  • Series: The Scientific Image (Clarendon Library of Logic & Philosophy)
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press; 1 edition (October 2, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198244274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198244271
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.6 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am a philosopher, and in recent years I have been preoccupied with two philosophical questions, one about philosophy itself, and one about science,
"What Is Empiricism, and What Could It Be?" and "What is Scientific Representation?" I've offered an answer to the first in my book The Empirical Stance, and tackled the second in a book I finished anno 2008, Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective.

Most of my work as a philosopher has been in philosophy of science and in philosophical logic, but with occasional forays into philosophy of literature and the connections between art, literature, and science. Like most philosophers (I think) I began with the ambition to arrive at a coherent view of everything -- some day, within my lifetime -- and I am still cherishing that idea ...

Is there a general basic empiricist position within which I address philosophical questions? I have tried to address this (admittedly many-sided) question in various places, but if I am to indicate just one, it should be "Literate Experience: The [De-, Re-] Construction of Nature" (2000), which is available on the abstracts & manuscripts page on my website

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A reader on October 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From van Frassen's perspective, science is concerned with the development of scientific models for understanding and controlling reality. The model does not have to be 'true', as the believers in scientific realism seem to believe, but it has to be testable against empirical evidence. The success of science should not and cannot be explained by refering to how current knowledge is closer to the truth, but by the fact that our models are better at explaining and predicting. When space probes report data about planets beyond our solar system, they are not explaining the 'truth', they are providing data that we can use for improving our models of the universe. Scientific theories contain statements about scientific models, not about the 'real world'. Truth is a concept that applies to logic and mathematics, and makes little sense for discussing the real world. What is important in science is the validity of the models being used, which van Fraasen describes as whether the models are empirically adequate or not.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Boyden on October 29, 1997
Format: Paperback
Bas van Fraassen rejects the current trend in philosophy of science toward scientific realism. In this book, he advocates something he calls constructive empiricism as an alternative; his constructive empiricism has a neo-positivist feel to it, but the development of his own position is not the most interesting aspect of this book. His criticisms of scientific realism, which really form the heart of the work, are extremely detailed, forceful, and interesting; they present a challenge which, after a decade and a half, scientific realists have yet to meet.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Tim H. on November 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a must read for anyone wishing to sincerely engage in philosophy of science. It should change the way you think about science, but it does not deny anything essential to science. Just so you know, Van Fraassen is a Catholic, so he does seem to believe in unobservable entities, though he denies that empirical science as it is commonly understood can tell us anything about them directly.
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13 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
In this book, van Fraassen put forth a 'constructive empiricist' anti-realist account of science. The book contains many metaphors and even a short story. Yet it is often unclear whether he is prescribing norms for scientists, and merely describing their practice. (This may result from his counterfactual account, which strangely seems to warrant belief in propositions containing terms allegedly referring to unobservables that have nevertheless not been observed. At best, the account makes perfect agnosticism preferable to belief-formation with respect to propositions containing unobservable terms, where such prescriptions are justified on the basis of something other than facts.) The book represents what positivist philosophy might have become in the absence of thinkers who were more sensitive to the subtleties between the philosophy of language and ontology.
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7 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
bas van fraassen in claiming to offer a viable alternativve to scientific realism has indirectly acknowledged the existence of unobservable entities in saying that we will nnot know eveything there is to know or everything thaat can be known in the universe/life.As an empiricist or form of it he generously engages the dicourse that unobservable entities DO have meaning but that they cant exist because any such admission would be a saving of realist theory(scientific realism posits the view that these objects have not only existence but meaning too).scientific realism is optimistic in that it belives that everything can be known or discovered by advocating this view of science,but vF rejcts this but by doing so he has created an entity that will remain forever unknowable to the mind,an unobsevable entity technically if nothing else he creates their existence and this is contrary to his position. paul neilan an NUIG student.
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