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Chakravartty, Anjan, , . Six degrees of speculation: metaphysics in empirical contexts
2007, B. Monton (ed.) Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 183-208
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Matthew Watts

Abstract: This chapter argues that the distinction between empiricism and metaphysics is not as clear as van Fraassen would like to believe. Almost all inquiry is metaphysical to a degree, including van Fraassen’s stance empiricism. Van Fraassen does not make a strong case against metaphysics, since the argument against metaphysics has to happen at the level of meta-stances — the level where one decides which stance to endorse. The chapter maintains that utilizing van Fraassen’s own conception of rationality, metaphysicians are rational. Empiricists should not reject all metaphysics, but just the sort of metaphysics which goes well beyond the empirical contexts that most interest them.

Comment: This text is useful discussions pertaining to metaphysics and its useful for empiricists
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Massimi, Michaela, , . Why There are No Ready-Made Phenomena: What Philosophers of Science Should Learn From Kant
2008, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 63:1-35.
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Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by:

Abstract: The debate on scientific realism has raged among philosophers of science for decades. The scientific realist’s claim that science aims to give us a literally true description of the way things are, has come under severe scrutiny and attack by Bas van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism. All science aims at is to save the observable phenomena, according to van Fraassen. Scientific realists have faced since a main sceptical challenge: the burden is on them to prove that the entities postulated by our scientific theories are real and that science is still in the ‘truth’ business.

Comment: This article provides a very clear explanation of the scientific realism/Van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism debate highlighting scientific realists’ main difficulty, i.e find a proof that entities posited by science are real. Presupposes some background on the above mentioned themes.

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Massimi, Michela, , . Saving Unobservable Phenomena
2007, British Journal of Philosophy of Science 58(2): 235-262.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper the author argues -against van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism-that the practice of saving phenomena is much broader than usually thought, and includes unobservable phenomena as well as observable ones. Her argument turns on the distinction between data and phenomena: She discusses how unobservable phenomena manifest themselves in data models and how theoretical models able to save them are chosen. She presents a paradigmatic case study taken from the history of particle physics to illustrate her argument. The first aim of this paper is to draw attention to the experimental practice of saving unobservable phenomena, which philosophers have overlooked for too long. The second aim is to explore some far-reaching implications this practice may have for the debate on scientific realism and constructive empiricism.

Comment: This article is appropriate for studying the relationship between theoretical models and data models, as well as the scientific practice of saving unobservable phenomena. For a better understanding of this article, it could be really useful to have a previous basic knowledge on Bas van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism. The article is appropriate for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science. It is especially interesting for those interested in theoretical models in particle physics.

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