Ordinary Knowledge and Scientific Realism

  • William A. Rottschaefer
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series in Philosophy book series (PSSP, volume 12)


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.


Scientific Theory Scientific Realism Causal Theory Theoretical Term Causal Interaction 
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  1. 18.
    Confer Konrad Lorenz, ’Kant’s Doctrine of the A-Priori in the light of Contemporary Biology’, General Systems Yearbook of the Society forGeneral Systems Research (ed. by L. von Bertalarffy and A. Rapopant) Society for General Systems Research, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1961, pp. 23–35.Google Scholar
  2. Cf. Donald T. Campbell, ’Evolutionary Epistemology’,The Philosophy of KarlR. Popper. The Library of Living Philosophers (ed. by Paul A. Schlipp) The Open Court Publishing Co., LaSalle, III, 1974 pp. 413–463Google Scholar
  3. and the very important first section on evolutionary epistemology in Milic Capek, Bergson and Modern Physics:A reinterpretation and Reevaluation Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. VI (ed. by R.S. Cohn and M.W. Wartofsky ), Humanities Press, New York, 1971.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • William A. Rottschaefer

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