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Massimi, Michela, and . Saving Unobservable Phenomena

2007, British Journal of Philosophy of Science 58(2): 235-262.

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.