Bas van FraassenBas van Fraassen is a philosopher of science known for his attack on scientific theories as "true." This is of course quite reasonable, since "truth" is a concept properly only applicable in fields like logic and mathematics. He calls this "scientific realism." But this is only the position of the failed philosophical school of logical positivism. He defines his (straw man?) of scientific realism....
Science aims to give us, in its theories, a literally true story of what the world is like: and acceptance of a scientific theory involves the belief that it is true. This is the correct statement of scientific realism.van Fraassen knows scientific theories are not "true," because they are judged by their agreement with the statistical outcomes of experiments. Theories make predictions, sometime with probabilities. Their "correctness" is judged by their agreement with experiments, which are always statistical.
Science aims to give us theories which are empirically adequate; and acceptance of a theory involves as belief only that it is empirically adequate. This is the statement of the anti-realist position I advocate; I shall call it constructive empiricism.Compare the "manifest image" and the "scientific image" of Wilfred Sellars, whose manifest image was of a world we know from experience as opposed to the scientific image, which he saw as a constructed conceptual framework based on a "scientific determinism," which contains a picture of man as part and parcel of a deterministic order. Normal | Teacher | Scholar