Making Contact with Observations

Chapter

Abstract

Jim Bogen and James Woodward’s ‘Saving the Phenomena’, published only 20 years ago, has become a modern classic. Their centrepiece idea is a distinction between data and phenomena. Data are typically the kind of things that are publicly observable or measurable like “bubble chamber photographs, patterns of discharge in electronic particle detectors and records of reaction times and error rates in various psychological experiments” (p. 306). Phenomena are “relatively stable and general features of the world which are potential objects of explanation and prediction by general theory” and are typically unobservable (Woodward 1989, p. 393). Examples of the latter category include “weak neutral currents, the decay of the proton, and chunking and recency effects in human memory” (Bogen and Woodward 1988, p. 306). Theories, in Bogen and Woodward’s view, are utilised to systematically explain and predict phenomena, not data (pp. 305–306). The relationship between theories and data is rather indirect. Data count as evidence for phenomena and the latter in turn count as evidence for theories. This view has been further elaborated in subsequent papers (Bogen and Woodward 1992, 2005; Woodward 1989) and is becoming increasingly influential (e.g., Basu 2003; Psillos 2004; Mauricio Suárez 2005).

References

  1. Basu PK (2003) Theory-ladenness of evidence: a case study from history of chemistry. Stud Hist Philos Sci Part A 34:351–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bogen J, Woodward J (1988) Saving the phenomena. Philos Rev 97(3):303–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bogen J, Woodward J (1992) Observations, theories and the evolutions of the human spirit. Philos Sci 59(4):590–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bogen J, Woodward J (2005) Evading the IRS. In: Jones MR, Cartwright N (eds) Poznan studies in the philosophy of the sciences and the humanities, idealization XII: Correcting the model. Rodopi, Amsterdam, pp 233–268Google Scholar
  5. Brookes CJ (1970) On the prediction of neptune. Celest Mech 3:67–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Duhem P [1914] (1991) The aim and structure of physical theory. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  7. Laudan L, Leplin J (1991) Empirical equivalence and underdetermination. J Philos 88:449–472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Mayo DG (1991) Novel evidence and severe tests. Philos Sci 58(4):523–552CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Psillos S (2004) Tracking the real: Through thick and thin. Br J Philos Sci 55:393–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Suarez M (2005) The semantic view, empirical adequacy, and application. Crítica Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía 37(109):29–63Google Scholar
  11. Woodward J (1989) Data and phenomena. Synthese 79(3):393–472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Worrall J (2002) New evidence for old. In: Gärdenfors P et al (ed) In the scope of logic, methodology and philosophy of science. Vol. 1, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 191–209Google Scholar
  13. Zahar E (1973) Why did Einstein’s programme supersede Lorentz’s? (I&II). Br J Philos Sci 24:95–123, 223–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophisches InstitutHeinrich-Heine-Universität DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

Personalised recommendations