Last modified on 4 November 2013, at 08:08

Alan Chalmers

Two normal observers viewing the same object from the same place under the same physical circumstances do not necessarily have identical visual experiences, even though the images on their respective retinas may be virtually identical.

Alan Francis Chalmers (born 1939, in Bristol, England) is a British-Australian philosopher of science.

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What Is This Thing Called Science? (Third Edition; 1999)Edit

  • Science is widely esteemed. Apparently it is a widely held belief that there is something special about science and its methods.
    • Introduction, p. xix
  • Empiricism and positivism share the common view that scientific knowledge should in some way be derived from the facts arrived at by observation.
    • Chapter 1, Science as knowledge derived form the facts of experience, p. 3
  • Two normal observers viewing the same object from the same place under the same physical circumstances do not necessarily have identical visual experiences, even though the images on their respective retinas may be virtually identical.
    • Chapter 1, Science as knowledge derived form the facts of experience, p. 5
  • The experienced and skilled observer does not have perceptual experiences identical to those of the untrained novice when the two confront the same situation.
    • Chapter 1, Science as knowledge derived form the facts of experience, p. 8
  • A far as perception is concerned, the only things with which an observer has direct and immediate contact are his or her experiences.
    • Chapter 1, Science as knowledge derived form the facts of experience, p. 8
  • It should be no news to anyone that the perceptual judgements of individuals can be unreliable for a rang of reasons. The challenge, in science, is to arrange the observable situation in such a way that the reliance on such judgements is minimised if not eliminated.
    • Chapter 2, Observation as practical intervention, p. 21
  • Which facts are relevant and which are not relevant to a science will be relative to the current state of development of that science.
    • Chapter 3, Experiment, p. 27
  • Many kinds of processes are at work in the world around us, and they are all superimposed on, and interact with, each other in complicated ways.
    • Chapter 3, Experiment, p. 28
  • No matter which comes first, the facts or the theory, the question to be addressed is the extent to which the theory is borne out by the facts. The strongest possible claim would be that the theory can be logically derived from the facts. That is, given the facts, the theory can be proven as a consequence of them. This strong claim cannot be substantiated.
    • Chapter 4, Deriving theories from facts: induction, p. 41
  • Science progresses by trail and error, by conjectures and refutations. Only the fittest theories survive.
    • Chapter 5, Introducing falsification, p. 60
  • The greater the number of conjectured theories that are confronted by the realities of the world, and the more speculative those conjectures are, the greater will be the chances of major advances in science.
    • Chapter 5, Introducing falsification, p. 67
  • The confirmations of novel predictions resulting from bold conjectures are very important in the falsificationist account of the growth of science.
    • Chapter 6, Sophisticated falsification, novel predictions and the growth of science, p. 81
  • The aim of science is to falsify theories and to replace them by better theories, theories that demonstrate a greater ability to withstand tests.
    • Chapter 6, Sophisticated falsification, novel predictions and the growth of science, p.83
Establishing by observation that there is just one black swan falsifies "all swans are white". This is an unexceptional and undeniable point. However, using it as grounds to support a falsificationist philosophy of science is not as straightforward as it might seem.
  • Establishing by observation that there is just one black swan falsifies "all swans are white". This is an unexceptional and undeniable point. However, using it as grounds to support a falsificationist philosophy of science is not as straightforward as it might seem.
    • Chapter 7, The limitations of falsificationism, p. 87
  • A mature science is governed by a single paradigm.
    • Chapter 8, Theories as structures I: Kuhn's paradigms, p. 109
  • Science describes not just the observable world but also the world that lies beyond the appearances. This is a rough statement of realism with respect to science.
    • Chapter 15, Realism and anti-realism, p. 226
  • Scientists are typically good at making scientific progress, but not particularly good at articulating what the progress consists of.
    • Chapter 16, Epilogue, p. 252

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