In Van Fraassen's Theoretical Analysis

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The complication caused by this interaction then naturally raises the question of how one can distinguish what is true in the observed and what is observed simply as a result of the medium by which it is observed; i.e. faults in instrumentation. Hacking sees a way around this issue through an argument by coincidence. Hacking argues that the observation can be said to be “true” – that is, true to the nature of the observed – if and only if it is verifiable by other means of seeing. If one sees the same fundamental structural features of some object A by one method of microscopy and then another and then another again, it becomes increasingly unlikely that the fundamental features of the structure of A are the result of collective error on the …show more content…
Van Fraassen begins by an account of four historical completeness criteria, beginning with Aristotle and continuing into the 20th century. Aristotle proposed that science must demonstrate that things must happen as they do in order to explain how they happen. This conception was rejected by the time of the scientific revolution and was eventually replaced by determinism, whereby it was said scientific accounts were incomplete until the described phenomenon could be represented as a deterministic process. However, determinism was eventually discarded due to the “resolute acceptance of an irreducible indeterminism in nature” resulting from the new developments of quantum mechanics in the early 20th century. In its place came the “Common Cause Principle”, but this was soon too rejected due to its apparent incongruity with new quantum developments. And so, at this point, there remained only one completeness criterion: the “appearance-from-reality criterion”. This criterion stipulated that a scientific representation was only successful or complete insofar as it was capable of not only fitting the nature described into the scientific representation but also being able to explain how it was produced as a “proper part of the reality of the depicted” (794-96). That is, the nature of the described must not only fit into the scientific representation but also be a result of some part of that representation in order to be complete or successful. Van Fraassen’s goal, from this point on in his paper, is to demonstrate the insufficiency of the appearance-from-reality

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