The Reality of the Unobservable

Observability, Unobservability and Their Impact on the Issue of Scientific Realism

  • Evandro Agazzi
  • Massimo Pauri

Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 215)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Introduction

    1. Evandro Agazzi, Massimo Pauri
      Pages 1-29
  3. History

  4. General Philosophy, Scientific Realism

    1. Evandro Agazzi
      Pages 45-57
    2. Jean-Pierre Desclés
      Pages 87-112
    3. Roberto Torretti
      Pages 113-122
    4. Peter Galison
      Pages 123-128
    5. Gerhard Heinzmann
      Pages 137-144
  5. Philosophy of Observation

  6. Philosophy of Quantum Theory

    1. Nancy Cartwright
      Pages 241-249
    2. Bernard D’Espagnat
      Pages 251-255
    3. Massimo Pauri
      Pages 257-282
    4. Olivier Costa de Beauregard
      Pages 283-291
  7. Specific Issues of Observability in Quantum Theory

    1. Bernulf Kanitscheider
      Pages 311-316
    2. Brigitte Falkenburg
      Pages 329-341
    3. Giovanni Maria Prosperi
      Pages 343-351
    4. Enrico Beltrametti, Slawomir Bugajski
      Pages 353-359
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 361-377

About this book


Observability and Scientific Realism It is commonly thought that the birth of modern natural science was made possible by an intellectual shift from a mainly abstract and specuJative conception of the world to a carefully elaborated image based on observations. There is some grain of truth in this claim, but this grain depends very much on what one takes observation to be. In the philosophy of science of our century, observation has been practically equated with sense perception. This is understandable if we think of the attitude of radical empiricism that inspired Ernst Mach and the philosophers of the Vienna Circle, who powerfully influenced our century's philosophy of science. However, this was not the atti tude of the f ounders of modern science: Galileo, f or example, expressed in a f amous passage of the Assayer the conviction that perceptual features of the world are merely subjective, and are produced in the 'anima!' by the motion and impacts of unobservable particles that are endowed uniquely with mathematically expressible properties, and which are therefore the real features of the world. Moreover, on other occasions, when defending the Copernican theory, he explicitly remarked that in admitting that the Sun is static and the Earth turns on its own axis, 'reason must do violence to the sense' , and that it is thanks to this violence that one can know the tme constitution of the universe.


Cosmology EFE Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Immanuel Kant Philosophy of Science Quantum mechanics experience mind objectivity

Editors and affiliations

  • Evandro Agazzi
    • 1
  • Massimo Pauri
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of GenoaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Physics (Theoretical Division)University of ParmaItaly

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2000
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Print ISBN 978-90-481-5458-6
  • Online ISBN 978-94-015-9391-5
  • Series Print ISSN 0068-0346
  • Buy this book on publisher's site