His father, a steam fitter , was forced by the Nazis to work in a factory in Hamburg. After the war, the family reunited and emigrated to Edmonton , in western Canada. He previously taught at Yale University , the University of Southern California , the University of Toronto and, from to , at Princeton University , where he is now emeritus. Philosophical work[ edit ] Philosophy of science[ edit ] Van Fraassen coined the term " constructive empiricism " in his book The Scientific Image, in which he argued for agnosticism about the reality of unobservable entities. That book was "widely credited with rehabilitating scientific anti-realism. Van Fraassen showed that there were other ways to be an empiricist with respect to science, without following in the footsteps of the logical positivists.
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This is a book in the philosophy of science, which examines the concept of laws of nature. The author analyses and rejects arguments for the Laws and Symmetry Clarendon Press Description Metaphysicians speak of laws of nature in terms of necessity and universality; scientists do so in terms of symmetry and invariance. This book argues that no metaphysical account of laws can succeed. The author analyses and rejects the arguments that there are laws of nature, or that we must believe that there are.
He argues that we should discard the idea of law as an inadequate clue to science. After exploring what this means for general epistemology, the book develops the empiricist view of science as a construction of models to represent the phenomena.
Concepts of symmetry, transformation, and invariance illuminate the structure of such models. A central role is played in science by symmetry arguments, and it is shown how these function also in the philosophical analysis of probability.
The advocated approach presupposes no realism about laws or necessities in nature.
Bas van Fraassen
Laws and Symmetry
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