The theory-ladenness of observation and the theory-ladenness of the rest of the scientific process

William F. Brewer*, Bruce L. Lambert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

We use evidence from cognitive psychology and the history of science to examine the issue of the theory-ladenness of perceptual observation. This evidence shows that perception is theory-laden, but that it is only strongly theory-laden when the perceptual evidence is ambiguous or degraded, or when it requires a difficult perceptual judgment. We argue that debates about the theory-ladenness issue have focused too narrowly on the issue of perceptual experience, and that a full account of the scientific process requires an examination of theory-ladenness in attention, perception, data interpretation, data production, memory, and scientific communication. We conclude that the evidence for theory-ladenness does not lead to a relativist account of scientific knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhilosophy of Science
Volume68
Issue number3 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The theory-ladenness of observation and the theory-ladenness of the rest of the scientific process'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this