8.6. Instrumentalism

SR1 is so weak that it verges on instrumentalism, which is the view that theories are instruments that we use for our purposes: a theory is useful, or not, to the degree that it is fit for its purpose, but we can’t say whether it is true or false.

To see whether you are comfortable with instrumentalism, Allen Downey made up the following test. Read the following statements and give yourself a point for each one you agree with. If you score 4 or more, you might be an instrumentalist!

Downey’s Instrumentalism Test

If you are more comfortable with some of these statements than others, ask yourself why. What are the differences in these scenarios that influence your reaction? Can you make a principled distinction between them?

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