How to Split a Theory: Defending Selective Realism and Convergence without Proximity
Author: Harker, David
Source: British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Volume 64, Number 1, 13 March 2013 , pp. 79-106(28)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Abstract:The most influential arguments for scientific realism remain centrally concerned with an inference from scientific success to the approximate truth of successful theories. Recently, however, and in response to antirealists' objections from radical discontinuity within the history of science, the arguments have been refined. Rather than target entire theories, realists narrow their commitments to only certain parts of theories. Despite an initial plausibility, the selective realist strategy faces significant challenges. In this article, I outline four prerequisites for a successful selective realist defence and argue that adopting a comparative sense of success both satisfies those requirements and partially in consequence provides a more compelling, albeit more modest, realist thesis. <list list-type="simple">1Introduction2Requisites for a Selective Realist Defence3Success, Progress, and a New Selective Realist Thesis<list list-type="simple">3.1A new way for realists to think about scientific success3.2Distinguishing two realist commitments3.3A new selective realist thesis3.4For convergence and against relying on explanatory virtues4Requisites for a Selective Realist Defence Revisited5Historical Sketches<list list-type="simple">5.1Optical aether theories5.2Phlogiston theory5.3Darwin, Galton, and Weissmann on generation and inheritance5.4Stability across theory change6Conclusions
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2013-03-13
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