Metaphysics: Inside or Outside of Science?

  • Peeter Müürsepp Department of International Relations, Tallinn University of Technology
Keywords: Maxwell, standard empiricism, aim-oriented empiricism, metaphysical assumptions, Vihalemm, practical realism


For decades, the British philosopher of science Nicholas Maxwell has been promoting a new approach to science called aim-oriented empiricism. Maxwell's basic claim is that the regular way of doing science, called standard empiricism, is untenable because it does not account for the basic general assumptions that scientists actually adhere to without acknowledgment. Standard empiricism is unable to make sense of the progress of science as it is happening. The alternative approach that Maxwell advocates, aim-oriented empiricism, acknowledges some basic metaphysical assumptions, comprehensibility, unity and simplicity as inherent parts of science itself. By including these metaphysical assumptions into science, Maxwell is looking for ways to make sense of the progress of science from a philosophical perspective. This paper challenges Maxwell's claim with the help of another new approach to science, practical realism. While the founder of practical realism, Rein Vihalemm, claims that his approach is closely related to Maxwell's views, he does not acknowledge any need for metaphysics in science.

How to Cite
Müürsepp, P. (2017). Metaphysics: Inside or Outside of Science?. Studia Philosophica Estonica, 10(1), 45-61. Retrieved from