scientific realism vs antirealism
For example, that Venus has CO2 in its atmosphere is currently warrantedly assertible, but future investigation could lead us to discover that it is not true. An acceptable philosophy of science should be able to explain standard scientific practice and its instrumental success. For example, what are the verification conditions expressed by “This is an electron”, where “this” does not pick out an ostendible object and where “is an electron” does not have directly verifiable content? They are positivists because of their pro-science stance; they are logical positivists because they embraced and used the formal logic techniques developed by Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein to clarify scientific and philosophical language. Structuralists respond that, though ontologies come and go, our grip on the underlying structure of the world steadily improves. Any of these strategies must meet two further challenges, emphasized in (Stanford 2003a, 2003b). Realists tend to see the history of science as supporting an optimistic meta-induction: since past theories were successful because they were approximately true and their core terms referred, so too current successful theories must be approximately true and their central terms refer. Second, IBE does not work without some logical connection between success and (approximate) truth. Since CE recommends agnosticism about unobservables but permits belief about observables, the policy requires an epistemologically principled distinction between the two. When scientific realism is mentioned in the literature, usually some version of this is intended. As realists rely on IBE, antirealists rely on EET: The argument appears to be valid, but each of its premises can be challenged (Boyd 1973; Laudan and Leplin 1991). The success of this response depends on whether explanatorily attractive theories are more likely to be true—why should nature care that we prefer simpler, more coherent, more unified theories?—and on whether a convincing case can be made for the claim that we are evolutionarily equipped with cognitive abilities that tend to select theories that are more likely to be true because their explanatory virtues appeal to us (Churchland 1985). Its proponents argue that it can account, for example, for apparently indistinguishable particles in entangled quantum states. van Fraassen, B. Copyright © is held by the author. A theory T is empirically adequate if and only if what T says about all actual observable things and events is true (that is, T saves all the phenomena, or T has a model that all actual phenomena fit in). Virtually all T-T* transitions in the past were affected by PUA: the earlier T-theorists selected T as the best supported theory of the available alternatives; they did not conceive of T* as an alternative; T* was conceived only later yet T* is typically better supported than T. At any given time, we could only conceive a limited set of hypotheses that were confirmed by all the evidence then available, yet subsequent inquiry revealed distinct alternatives that turned out to be equally or better confirmed by that evidence. Premise 1 is under-specified. Temporary gridlock need not amount to permanent undecidability: the lack of decisive reasons at a time does not imply that there will be no decisive reasons forever; when more evidence is acquired and its relevance better understood, convincing reasons usually emerge. (1989), “Structural Realism: The Best of Both Worlds?”, Dialectica 43, 99–124. Even more strongly, there is no paradigm-independent, objective fact of the matter concerning which of them is correct. This paper operates under the following two assumptions: First, there will be scientific These are mathematical idealizations. Why? Our question is this: Is scientific realism an adequate way to think about science or does some form of antirealism make more sense? Quine thus arrived at a realism not unlike the empirical realism of the logical positivists. The new science seems to postulate “hidden” causal powers without a legitimate epistemological or semantic grounding. Thus SR3 (and correspondence truth) is either vacuous or unintelligible. Van Fraassen also claims that the limits of observation are disclosed by empirical science and not by philosophical analysis—what is observable is simply a fact disclosed by science. Moreover, there is no inferential principle that realists could employ and antirealists would accept. A theory T is empirically (observationally) adequate if T/O is the class of all true observational sentences. Chemical valence was originally defined by a list pairing chemical elements with their valence numbers, but later this definition was unified in terms of the number of outer shell electrons in the element’s atoms. van Fraassen, B. Only messy phenomenological laws (describing empirical regularities and fairly directly supported by experiment) truly describe natural systems. But the discovery that the latter was true and the former false should not be described as a change of meaning or reference of the word “gravitation”. Jules Vuillemin, Princeton: Princeton University Press. This approach presupposes a problematic distinction between acquaintance and description and a problematic isomorphism between the percept and causal-entity structures. First, O-terms apply to apparently theoretical entities (for example, red corpuscle) and T-terms apply to apparently observable entities (for example, the moon is a satellite). For example, knowing the meaning of “This is blue” is being able to pick out the object referred to by “this” and to check that it is blue. Because they advocated a non-literal interpretation of theories, the positivists are considered to be antirealists. What is observable is variously taken as: what is detectable by human senses without instruments (Jupiter’s moons); what can be “directly” measured as opposed to “indirectly” calculated; what is detectable by humans-qua-natural-measuring-instruments (as thermometers measure temperature, humans “measure” observables). By contrast, “phlogiston” does not refer since nothing has the properties that the phlogiston theorists mistakenly believed to be responsible for the body of information they had about oxidation of metals, and so forth. But the inference from success to (approximate) truth is either invalid if read as a deductive move (because many successful theories turned out to be false (§7b)), weak if read as an inductive move (because nearly all successful past theories turned out to be false), or circular if read as a primitive IBE move. Newton’s law of gravitation, FG = Gm1m2/r122, tells us what the gravitational force between two massive bodies is. [It is misleading, however, to call epistemological holism “the Quine-Duhem thesis”. Stanford, P. K. (2001), “Refusing the Devil’s Bargain: What Kind of Underdetermination Should We Take Seriously?”, Philosophy of Science 68 (3), S1-S12.
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