Ordinary Knowledge and Scientific Realism
Current discussion in philosophy of science concerning the distinction between theory and observation seems to have yielded several important conclusions.1 The orthodox logical empiricist claim that there is some sort of substantive distinction between theory and observation has been subjected to severe criticism. And it is being replaced by the ’new empiricist’ claim that the distinction between theory and observation is relative and pragmatic.2 In the process the thesis of the radical critics of the old empiricism that observations are inextricably theory-laden has been shown to be inadequate. Thus though the new empiricists grant to the radicals that observations never come theory-free, they claim against the radicals that they can come theory-neutral, that is, neutral to the theory under test. As a result though observations may always be theory-laden, they need not be laden with the theory under scrutiny.
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