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Images of EmpiricismEssays on Science and Stances, with a Reply from Bas C. van Fraassen$
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Bradley Monton

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199218844

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199218844.001.0001

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Why be Hanged for Even a Lamb?

Why be Hanged for Even a Lamb?

Chapter:
(p.32) 3 Why be Hanged for Even a Lamb?
Source:
Images of Empiricism
Author(s):

Nancy Cartwright (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199218844.003.0003

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

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