Representation and perspective in science

Vol 11, No 2 (2007) • Principia: an international journal of epistemology

Autor: Bas C. Van Fraassen


The world science describes tends to have a very strange look. We can’t see atoms or force fields, nor are they imaginable within visualizable categories, so neither can we even imagine what the world must be like according to recent physical theories. That tension, between what science depicts as reality and how things appear to us, though it is more striking now, has been with us since modern science began. It can be addressed, and perhaps alleviated by inquiring into how science represents nature. In general, representation is selective, the selection is of what is relevant to the purpose at hand, and success may even require distortion. From this point of view, the constraint on science, that it must ‘save the phenomena’, takes on a new form. The question to be faced is how the perspectival character of the appearances (that is, contents of measurement outcomes) can be related to the hidden structure that the sciences postulate. In the competing interpretations of quantum mechanics we can see how certain traditional ideals and constraints are left behind. Specifically, Carlo Rovelli’s Relational Quantum Mechanics offers a probative example of the freedom of scientific representation.


ISSN: 1414-4217


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Principia: an international journal of epistemology

"Principia: an international journal of epistemology" was founded in 1997 and regularly publishes articles, discussions and review. The journal aims to publish original scholarly work especially in epistemology area , with an emphasis on material of general interest to academic philosophers. Originally published only in print version (ISSN: 1414-4247), in 2005 the journal began to be published also in online version (ISSN: 1808-1711). Since 1999 are published three issues per year: in April, August and December. Qualis CAPES: A2