jan 1, 1980 - Bas van Fraassen (1941-present)


Bas van Fraassen is a Dutch-American professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University. He has also taught at Yale University, University of Southern California, University of Toronto, and Princeton University. He is a member of the Académie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences ("International Academy of the Philosophy of Science") and has won both the Lakatos Award and the Hempel Award for his contributions and achievements in the philosophy of science. In 1980, he published a book called The Scientific Image. In it he describes his views on scientific anti-realism or as he calls it constructive empiricism. Both are ways to think about the relation between science and the truth of reality.
To better understand his view, it is good to first understand what scientific realism is. It claims that “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 (van Fraassen).” Constructive empiricism states “Science aims to give us theories which are empirically adequate; and acceptance of a theory involves as belief only that it is empirically adequate (van Fraassen).” This means that science can only give us theories that are accurate with the information we have and that that is what we believe them to be. Attached is a video of an interview with van Fraassen explaining his theory.

Work Cited
Monton, Bradley, and Chad Mohler. “Constructive Empiricism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 17 Jan. 2017, plato.stanford.edu/entries/constructive-empiricism/.
van Fraassen, B., 1980, The Scientific Image, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Added to timeline:

11 months ago
Philosophy of Science


jan 1, 1980
~ 38 years ago



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