Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Unobservable, philosophy of science: What is unobservable depends on the theory that is applied to refer to a subject domain. Physically unobservable are e.g. electrons when electrons are used to make observations. See also uncertainty principle, theoretical entities, observation, observability, theories, recognition, epistemology.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Bas van Fraassen on Unobservables - Dictionary of Arguments

I 54
Unobservability/Fraassen: as long as we do not forbid negation, we can express in an observation language that something is unobservable. And we can even express to a certain extent, how these unobserved entities are.
E.g. Unobservable/Copenhagen interpretation: says that there are things that sometimes have a certain position and sometimes not. >Copenhagen Interpretation.
N.B.: that was expressed without using a single theoretical term - e.g. the consequence of a theory: absolute space: would have neither position nor volume. - This has nothing to do with what exists in the observable world. >Ontology, >Existence.
N.B.: a theory reduced to observation language would not be a description of a "part of the world". - ((s) because there is no meaningful separation observable/unobservable - Syntax/Fraassen: this is only a problem for the syntactic representation of theories.
I 57
Limits of observability are empirical, not philosophical. >Observability.
I 71
Unobservable/Truth/Theory/Fraassen: if a theory has implications about the unobservable, then evidence does not guarantee the truth of the theory. ((s) this practically always the case.) -Conversely, the evidence would never justify a conclusion that goes beyond this evidence. - Conclusions about what is observable also go beyond the evidence. >Evidence.
I 72
Fraassen: There are no rationally compelling reasons to go beyond the evidence.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Fr I
B. van Fraassen
The Scientific Image Oxford 1980

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2023-06-01
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