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Recent developments in Nancy Cartwright's philosophy are examined, against the background of her earlier ideas. The examination is structured around two related problems for the interpretation of Cartwright; how to understand Cartwright's claim that we can see capacities in experiments, and the question of whether Cartwright is entitled to call herself an empiricist. It is argued that we should understand Cartwright as allowing that the seeing of capacities in experiments can incorporate an interpretive aspect. It is further argued that, although Cartwright is a long way from contemporary Humean empiricists, her views can be understood as falling within the broad empiricist tradition. In the process of addressing these issues the role of idealization in Cartwright's thought is explained. © 1999 Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Original publication




Journal article


Science and Education

Publication Date





363 - 374