Foundations of Physics

, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 1655–1661 | Cite as

Michel Ghins on the Empirical Versus the Theoretical

  • Bas C. van Fraassen


Michel Ghins and I are both empiricists, and agree significantly in our critique of “traditional” empiricist epistemology. We differ however in some respects in our interpretation of the scientific enterprise. Ghins argues for a moderate scientific realism which includes the view that acceptance of a scientific theory will bring with it belief in the existence of all those entities, among the entities the theory postulates, that satisfy certain criteria. For Ghins these criteria derive from the criteria for legitimate affirmation of existence for any entities, the directly observable ones not being privileged in that respect. They are roughly that the putatively existing entity should according to the accepted theory manifest itself in our experience, and display a certain permanence and invariance. My disagreement on this topic derives from a larger difference concerning the relation between experience, existence, and theory.


Scientific Theory Scientific Realism Scientific Enterprise Empirical Versus Empiricist Epistemology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bas C. van Fraassen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyPrinceton UniversityPrinceton

Personalised recommendations