Astroparticle physics, a constructive empiricist account

Alessio Gava


Astroparticle physics is an interdisciplinary field embracing astronomy, astrophysics and particle physics. In a recent paper on this topic (2012), Brigitte Falkenburg defended that only scientific realism can make sense of it and that realist beliefs constitute an indispensable methodological principle of research in this discipline. The aim of this work is to show that there exists an anti-realist alternative to this account, along the lines of what Bas van Fraassen showed in his famous book The Scientific Image (1980). Problems and results of astroparticle physics can be understood from an empiricist point of view too, namely that of van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism, which is a more modest and metaphysics-free alternative to scientific realism. Although constructive empiricism can make sense of science no worse than scientific realism does, van Fraassen’s goal is not to demonstrate that his stance is the only viable position, but just that it is not incoherent or proven false by his opponents (see Kusch 2015, 172). In this paper it will be shown that the constructive empiricist stance constitutes a legitimate alternative to scientific realism even when it gets to astroparticle physics and that it does indeed make sense of this new discipline, pace Falkenburg.


Anti-Realism; Astroparticle Physics; Constructive Empiricism; Falkenburg; van Fraassen

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