In this journal, Peter Lipton and I (Dicken & Lipton 2006) discussed Musgrave's (1985: 207–9) objection that the constructive empiricist cannot consistently maintain his own distinction between the observable and the unobservable, and van Fraassen's (1985: 256) initial reply. We considered several possible interpretations of van Fraassen, and expressed misgivings about each. Muller and van Fraassen (2008) have consequently clarified the official constructive empiricist response to Musgrave, although some issues still remain.

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According to Muller and van Fraassen, Musgrave's objection assumes that constructive empiricism is to be understood in line with a syntactic account of our scientific theories – whereby a theory consists of a set of sentences formulated in some suitable language – whereas constructive empiricism has always been wedded to...

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