Journal for General Philosophy of Science

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 111–125 | Cite as

Photographic Evidence and the Problem of Theory-Ladenness

  • Nicola MößnerEmail author


Scientists use visualisations of different kinds in a variety of ways in their scientific work. In the following article, we will take a closer look at the use of photographic pictures as scientific evidence. In accordance with Patrick Maynard’s thesis, photography will be regarded as a family of technologies serving different purposes in divergent contexts. One of these is its ability to detect certain phenomena. Nonetheless, with regard to the philosophical thesis of theory-ladenness of observation, we encounter certain reservations concerning the status of photography and that of photographic pictures in the process of measurement in science. Accordingly, the aim of this paper is twofold: We will discuss suggested solutions both for the technological and for the psychological part of the problem of theory-ladenness appearing in the context of the use of photography in scientific observations. The essential proposal will be to follow Christian Suhm in his advice to make a distinction between theory-relativity and theory-ladenness.


Evidence Patrick Maynard Photography Scientific observation Technology Theory-ladenness 



I would like to thank Maria Reicher-Marek, Alexander Wagner and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in the context of the project “Visualisierungen in den Wissenschaften – eine wissenschaftstheoretische Untersuchung”. For linguistic revision I thank Janet Carter-Sigglow.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophisches InstitutRWTH AachenAachenGermany

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