What Is Empirical Testing?
Science is epistemically special, or so I will assume: it is better able to produce
knowledge about the workings of the world than other knowledge-directed
pursuits. Further, its superior epistemic powers are due to its being in
some sense especially empirical: in particular, science puts great weight on
a form of inductive reasoning that I call empirical confirmation. My aim
in this paper is to investigate the nature of science’s
empiricism, and to
provide a preliminary explanation of the connection between empirical
confirmation and epistemic efficacy. I will try to convince you that the place
to find an account of empirical confirmation is the dusty, long-neglected
instantialist account of scientific inference offered by mid-century logical
empiricists. Some revision of instantialism will be required. As for what
is advantageous in empirical confirmation, I propose that it is an unusual
degree of independence from background belief.
See a PDF version of the paper.