SCIENTIFIC REALISM AND THE EMPIRICIST CHALLENGE: AN INTRODUCTION TO ERNAN MCMULLIN'S AQUINAS LECTURE

Authors

  • Bas C. van Fraassen

    1. Bas C. van Fraassen is a professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University and may be contacted at the Department of Philosophy, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA; e-mail: fraassen@sfsu.edu.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Unless otherwise noted, page references will be to the text of The Inference That Makes Science (originally McMullin 1992) which is reprinted in this issue of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.

Abstract

Abstract In The Inference That Makes Science, Ernan McMullin recounts the clear historical progress he saw toward a vision of the sciences as conclusions reached rationally on the basis of empirical evidence. Distinctive of this vision was his view of science as driven by a specific form of inference, retroduction. To understand this properly, we need to disentangle the description of retroductive inference from the claims made on its behalf. To end I will suggest that the real rival to McMullin's vision of science is not the methodologies he criticizes so successfully but a more radical empiricist alternative in epistemology.

Ancillary