The Empirical Stance

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Yale University Press, Jan 1, 2002 - Philosophy - 282 pages
What is empiricism and what could it be? Bas C. van Fraassen, one of the world's foremost contributors to philosophical logic and the philosophy of science, here undertakes a fresh consideration of these questions and offers a program for renewal of the empiricist tradition. The empiricist tradition is not and could not be defined by common doctrines, but embodies a certain stance in philosophy, van Fraassen says. This stance is displayed first of all in a searing, recurrent critique of metaphysics, and second in a focus on experience that requires a voluntarist view of belief and opinion.
Van Fraassen focuses on the philosophical problems of scientific and conceptual revolutions and on the not unrelated ruptures between religious and secular ways of seeing or conceiving of ourselves. He explores what it is to be or not be secular and points the way toward a new relationship between secularism and science within philosophy.

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Contents

Against Analytic Metaphysics
1
1 Living with a Dead Metaphysics
2
2 Ontology Reborn
4
3 Does the World Exist?
5
4 A Spectrum of Theories
6
5 Scientific Steps Beyond Science?
11
6 The Form of Success and Its Failure
18
7 A Dilemma for the Conscientious
25
2 Criteria for Royal Succession in Science
115
EMPIRICIST FUNDAMENTALISM AND THE OPEN FUTURE
117
3 Feyerbands Critique of Classical Empiricism
119
4 The Argument Hoist on Its Own Petard?
124
Undermining the Analogy
129
The Problem of Epistemic Frailty and Sin
135
TOLERATING AMBIGUITY THE INEXHAUSTIBLE UNFATHOMABLE HISTORICAL SELF
137
7 The Uses of an Unfollowable Rule
138

8 A World Well Lost
27
What Is Empiricism and What Could It Be?
31
2 History of the Word Empiricism
32
The Defining Criterion
34
4 Immediate Inadequacy of the Criterion
35
The Recurrent Rebellion
36
WHAT EMPIRICISM CANNOT BE
38
Doomed to Vicious Circle or Infinite Regress?
39
Why Stonewalling Cant Work
40
PHILOSOPHICAL STANCES
46
What Separates Empiricists from Metaphysicians?
47
11 The Stance as Will and Idea
48
EXAMPLE OF A STANCE MISUNDERSTOOD MATERIALISM
49
12 Is This a Factual Claim?
50
14 Two Moves for Materialists
53
Whatever It Takes
55
15 Materialism as False Consciousness
57
16 Materialism Without False Consciousness?
60
FIVE WHAT COULD PHILOSOPHY BE THEN?
61
Scientific RevolutionConversion as a Philosophical Problem
64
OUR REJECTEDCELEBRATED PAST
65
1 Epistemic Trauma Revolution Conversion
67
2 The Problem of Radical Conversion as a Criterion of Adequacy
72
TWO FRAMEWORKS FOR SOLUTION
74
4 Objectifying Epistemology
77
5 Voluntarism in Epistemology
81
Wilfrid Sellarss Irenic Axiology
83
William Jamess Epistemic Imperatives
86
Not Yet Solved
90
THE IMPASSE ENTER EMOTION
92
Conditions for Revolution
93
8 Pascals Wager and Its Limits
94
9 Scientific RevolutionConversion as a Decision Problem
101
Breaking the Decision Paradigm
103
11 No Exit?
108
Coda
109
Experience Epistemic Life Without Foundations
111
INTERPRETING THE PAST
112
Our Deconstructible Language
113
Bohm Versus the Copenhagen School
141
Our Redeeming Weaknesses
143
Science as Representation and Interpretation
144
Scientific RevolutionConversion in Perspective
149
What Is Science and What Is It to Be Secular?
151
ONE WHAT IS SCIENCE?
153
2 Objectification as Characteristic of Science
154
Predemarcation
158
Science in the Wildest Sense?
162
Is Genuine Novelty Possible?
163
Crisis
164
Does Science Automatically Involve Completeness Claims?
165
How General Is This Concept of Objectifying Inquiry?
166
Are There Nonobjectifying Forms of Inquiry
168
The Recurring RealistAntirealist Break
170
TWO SO WHAT IS IT TO BE SECULAR
172
6 Secularization of World Picture
174
7 Existential Response
177
Emil Fackenheim Gods Presence in History
178
Martin Buber The Eclipse of God
181
Rudolf Bultmann New Testament and Mythology
183
8 Persons Encounter with the Divine
187
9 Stranger in a Strange Land
192
Scientific Cosmology
195
A History of the Name Empiricism
199
Scientific Methodologies
200
Classifying Philosophical Currents
201
An Alternative Classification of Philosophies
205
5 Emergence of the Textbook Classification
207
Radical Empiricism
211
The Difficulties About Experience Husserl Dewey
215
8 Reichenbachs View of the History of Empiricism
218
Reichenbachs Third Way
220
Drawing on Science the Right Way
222
Bultmanns Theology Is Not a Philosophy
224
Notes
229
Bibliography
259
Index
273
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