Journal for General Philosophy of Science

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 167–182 | Cite as

Microscopes and the Theory-Ladenness of Experience in Bas van Fraassen’s Recent Work

Special Section Article: Theory-Ladenness


Bas van Fraassen’s recent book Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective (2008) modifies and refines the “constructive empiricism” of The Scientific Image (1980) in a number of ways. This paper investigates the changes concerning one of the most controversial aspects of the overall position, that is, van Fraassen’s agnosticism concerning the veridicality of microscopic observation. The paper tries to make plausible that the new formulation of this agnosticism is an advance over the older rendering. The central part of this investigation is an attempt to answer Marc Alspector-Kelly’s 2004-criticism of an early (2001) version of van Fraassen’s new position. Alspector-Kelly’s contribution it is to date the most extensive attack on van Fraassen’s twenty-first-century work on the topic of microscopic observation. One of the central ideas emerging from the present discussion is a link between the debate over the veridicality of microscopic observation and the issue of the theory-ladenness of experience.


Bas van Fraassen Ian Hacking Marc Alspector-Kelly Paul Teller Constructive empiricism Theory-ladenness 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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