The instrumentalist’s new clothes

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This article develops a new version of instrumentalism, in light of progress in the realism debate in recent decades, and thereby defends the view that instrumentalism remains a viable philosophical position on science. The key idea is that talk of unobservable objects should be taken literally only when those objects are assigned properties (or described in terms of analogies involving things) with which we are experientially (or otherwise) acquainted. This is derivative from the instrumentalist tradition insofar as the distinction between unobservable and observable is taken to have significance with respect to meaning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1200-1211
Number of pages12
JournalPhilosophy of Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

Paper presented at the Meeting of the Philosophy-of-Science-Association (PSA), Nov 04-06, 2010, Montreal, Canada.


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