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Extra info for Inquiry and Understanding: An Introduction to Explanation in The Physical and Human Sciences

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Is a coarse grid laid over use'. 8 In his Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein gives an account of language as a dynamic creation that acquires its significance through use; the well-known phrase 'language game' refers to a language having meaning through the rules that guide its use, just as a game is the game that it is in virtue of the rules that guide the play. This stresses the assertive aspect of statements, that they embody facts and our interpretations of the world; our concepts and theories impose rules on sensory experiences that give them significance.

3 So even our most familiar facts rest on concepts and presuppose theories, albeit formulated without much conscious thought. All facts are theory-laden. This applies as much to particular statements offact as to generalisations. It follows that established theories support not only facts but also candidates for consideration as facts and as factual statements. Thus arry empirical statement must be supported by theory and, since it can only be judged true or false if it is understood, it follows that the supporting theory must be understood.

But then we shall modify ourviewofthe world-the world itself will not alter. It is necessary to stress that just because there must always be the possibility of mistaken beliefs it does not follow that we are never justified in claiming knowledge. A fortiori it does not follow that there is no such thing as objective truth about the world, an objective truth which human beings can not only understand but can also aspire to. This is not to say that, at the time of change, the evidence is unequivocal so that anyone who is rational and not prejudiced against change must accept the new theory as a true account and concede that its predecessor was erroneous.

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