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Scientific Progress at the Boundaries of Experience

Boyd, Nora M (2018) Scientific Progress at the Boundaries of Experience. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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My dissertation introduces a new empiricist philosophy of science built on a novel characterization of empirical evidence and an analysis of empirical adequacy appropriate to it. I analyze historical and contemporary cases primarily, though not exclusively, from the space sciences attending carefully to the intricate practices involved in data collection and processing. I argue that the epistemic utility of empirical results as constraints on theorizing depends on the conditions of their provenance and that therefore information about those conditions ought to be included in our conception of empirical evidence. I articulate the conditions requisite for adjudicating the empirical adequacy of a theory with respect to some evidence and argue that much more background information is required for this adjudication than has been widely appreciated. Although my account is strictly anti-realist, this project is a defense of a sense of epistemic progress in science. Empirical evidence, as I have defined it, genuinely accumulates over the history of human inquiry. We learn that whatever theoretical framework we propose for understanding what the world is like will have to be consistent with this growing evidential corpus.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Boyd, Nora Mnmb58@pitt.edunmb580000-0002-3641-8682
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairNorton,
Committee MemberBatterman,
Committee MemberWoodward,
Committee MemberSmeenk,
Date: 15 June 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 13 March 2018
Approval Date: 15 June 2018
Submission Date: 28 February 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 128
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: philosophy of science, empiricism, evidence, empirical adequacy, cosmology, astrophysics, dark energy, history of astronomy
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2018 14:48
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2018 14:48


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