Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Synthese

Publication Date

4-1-2014

Volume

191

Issue

6

First Page

1211

Last Page

1221

Keywords

Aim of science, Constructive empiricism, Scientific progress, Scientific realism, van Fraassen

Abstract

This paper argues that talk of 'the aim of science' should be avoided in the philosophy of science, with special reference to the way that van Fraassen sets up the difference between scientific realism and constructive empiricism. It also argues that talking instead of 'what counts as success in science as such' is unsatisfactory. The paper concludes by showing what this talk may be profitably replaced with, namely specific claims concerning science that fall into the following categories: descriptive, evaluative, normative, and definitional. There are two key advantages to this proposal. First, realism and its competitors may be understood to consist of highly nuanced variants. Second, scientific realism and its competitors may be understood as something other than 'all or nothing' theses about science. More particularly, one may accept that there are general claims concerning science in some of the identified categories, but deny that there are such claims in the others.

DOI

10.1007/s11229-013-0319-8

Print ISSN

00397857

E-ISSN

15730964

Publisher Statement

Copyright © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Pre-print

Recommended Citation

Rowbottom, D. P. (2014). Aimless science. Synthese, 191(6), 1211-1221. doi: 10.1007/s11229-013-0319-8