© 1989

Observability and Observation in Physical Science


Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 209)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Peter Kosso
    Pages 1-5
  3. Peter Kosso
    Pages 6-28
  4. Peter Kosso
    Pages 29-50
  5. Peter Kosso
    Pages 51-134
  6. Peter Kosso
    Pages 135-154
  7. Peter Kosso
    Pages 155-157
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 158-165

About this book


The concept of observability of entities in physical science is typically analyzed in terms of the nature and significance of a dichotomy between observables and unobservables. In this book, however, this categorization is resisted and observability is analyzed in a descriptive way in terms of the information which one can receive through interaction with objects in the world. The account of interaction and the transfer of information is done using applicable scientific theories. In this way the question of observability of scientific entities is put to science itself. Several examples are presented which show how this interaction-information account of observability is done. It is demonstrated that observability has many dimensions which are in general orthogonal. The epistemic significance of these dimensions is explained. This study is intended primarily as a method for understanding problems of observability rather than as a solution to those problems. The important issue of scientific realism and its relation to observability, however, demands attention. Hence, the implication of the interaction-information account for realism is drawn in terms of the epistemic significance of the dimensions of observability. This amounts to specifying what it is about good observations that make them objective evidence for scientific theories.


Case Studies Declaration of Independence concept history history of literature interaction issue nature realism science

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Observability and Observation in Physical Science
  • Authors Peter Kosso
  • Series Title Synthese Library
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 1989
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-0-7923-0389-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-94-010-7598-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-009-2434-5
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages VIII, 166
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Philosophy of Science
  • Buy this book on publisher's site