2015 | 63 | 3, Special No: Sedmkrát z logiky a metodologie vědy | 125-142
Vedecké inštrumenty a skutočnosť
Scientiﬁc instruments and reality
The aim of this paper is to investigate the role played by scientiﬁc instruments in the mediation of access to reality. We focus on instruments used in physics for experi¬ments and measurement. Their role ranges from rendering accurate the description of the phenomena which are uncovered, as well as of common experience, to provid¬ing access to phenomena which in normal experience have no analogy, and to testing scientiﬁc theories. The progress of science often leads to the discovery of new instru¬ments and to the emergence of new instrumental practice. In the light of this new practice, some theoretical entities, postulated by the preceding theories, will be con¬ﬁrmed and will become a lasting part of physical reality (as the intersection of several instrumental practices – for example, atoms, postulated in theories of chemical reac¬tions, were later conﬁrmed by spectrometers), while others will be dissolved (if the new instrumental practice comes into conﬂict with the predictions of older theory – for example caloricum, postulated in the 18th century in thermodynamics, was re¬futed by means of calorimetry in the 19th century). This tension between instrumen¬tal practice and the progress of scientiﬁc theories grounds a dynamic which results in an instrumentally-constituted reality.