From Instrumentalism to Constructive Realism

On Some Relations between Confirmation, Empirical Progress, and Truth Approximation

  • Theo A. F. Kuipers

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 287)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. General Introduction: Epistemological Positions

    1. Theo A. F. Kuipers
      Pages 1-12
  3. Confirmation

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 13-16
    2. Theo A. F. Kuipers
      Pages 17-42
    3. Theo A. F. Kuipers
      Pages 73-87
  4. Empirical Progress

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 89-91
    2. Theo A. F. Kuipers
      Pages 93-110
    3. Theo A. F. Kuipers
      Pages 111-133
  5. Basic Truth Approximation

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 135-138
    2. Theo A. F. Kuipers
      Pages 139-172
    3. Theo A. F. Kuipers
      Pages 173-207
  6. Refined Truth Approximation

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 241-244
    2. Theo A. F. Kuipers
      Pages 245-277
    3. Theo A. F. Kuipers
      Pages 278-298
    4. Theo A. F. Kuipers
      Pages 299-316
    5. Theo A. F. Kuipers
      Pages 317-333
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 334-372

About this book


Surprisingly, modified versions of the confirmation theory (Carnap and Hempel) and truth approximation theory (Popper) turn out to be smoothly sythesizable. The glue between the two appears to be the instrumentalist methodology, rather than that of the falsificationalist.
The instrumentalist methodology, used in the separate, comparative evaluation of theories in terms of their successes and problems (hence, even if already falsified), provides in theory and practice the straight road to short-term empirical progress in science ( à la Laudan). It is also argued that such progress is also functional for all kinds of truth approximation: observational, referential, and theoretical. This sheds new light on the long-term dynamics of science and hence on the relation between the main epistemological positions, viz., instrumentalism (Toulmin, Laudan), constructive empiricism (Van Fraassen), referential realism (Hacking, Cartwright), and theory realism of a non-essentialist nature (constructive realism à la Popper).
Readership: Open minded philosophers and scientists. The book explains and justifies the scientist's intuition that the debate among philosophers about instrumentalism and realism has almost no practical consequences.


Karl R. Popper Rudolf Carnap argue falsification logic science

Authors and affiliations

  • Theo A. F. Kuipers
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2000
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Print ISBN 978-90-481-5369-5
  • Online ISBN 978-94-017-1618-5
  • Buy this book on publisher's site