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Philosophy and scientific realism
John Jamieson Carswell SMARTÉditeur : Coéd. Routledge and Kegan Paul / Humanities Press - 1963
Scientific Realism and the Rationality of Science
Howard SANKEYÉditeur : Ashgate Publishing Limited - 2008
Underdetermination. An Essay on Evidence and the Limits of Natural Knowledge
Thomas BONKÉditeur : Springer Science+Business Media B.V. - 2008
Scientific Realism: Old and New Problems
Ronald N. GIERESous la direction de Hans ROTTDans Erkenntnis - 2005
Toward a Purely Axiological Scientific Realism
Timothy D. LYONSSous la direction de Hans ROTTDans Erkenntnis - 2005
Scientific Realism in Action: Molecular Models and Boltzmann’s Bildtheorie
Henk W. de REGTSous la direction de Hans ROTTDans Erkenntnis - 2005
Evidence, Explanation, and the Empirical Status of Scientific Realism
Igor DOUVENSous la direction de Hans ROTTDans Erkenntnis - 2005
Some Remarks on Cosmology and Scientific Realism
Brigitte FALKENBURGSous la direction de Pierre KERSZBERGDans Kairos - 2005
Perspectival Models and Theory Unification
Alexander RUEGERSous la direction de Alexander BIRD, James LADYMANDans The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 2005
A Philosopher Looks at Quantum Mechanics (Again)
Hilary PUTNAMSous la direction de Alexander BIRD, James LADYMANDans The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 2005
Philosophy of Experimental Biology
Marcel WEBERÉditeur : Cambridge University Press - 2005
The Paradox of Predictivism
Eric Christian BARNESÉditeur : Cambridge University Press - 2008
Social Theory of International Politics
Alexander WENDTÉditeur : Cambridge University Press - 1999
To begin with, Smart argues that philosophy ought to be something more than the art of clarifying thought and diagnosing nonsense, and that it should concern itself with the adumbration of a scientifically plausible world view. Early chapters deal with phenomenalism and the reality of theoretical entities, and with the relation between the physical and biological sciences. The question of the secondary qualities, such as colour, is then taken up, and a materialistic theory of consciousness is put forward. A further chapter defends the view of man as a physical mechanism, and is largely concerned with questions about problem solving and about free will. The next chapter discusses some relevant issues about space and time. The final chapter is on the place of man in nature, and whether the world view of the book has any implications for ethics. A major concern of Smart’s is to clear away a concealed anthropocentricity which the author believes to vitiate much philosophical and common sense thought.– I. «The province of philosophy»; – II. «Physical objects and physical theories»; – III. «Physics and biology»; – IV. «The secondary qualities»; – V. «Consciousness»; – VI. «Man as a physical mechanism»; – VII. «The space-time world»; – VIII. «Man and nature». M.-M. V.
The aim of this book is to articulate and defend a scientific realist philosophy of science, and to formulate scientific realism in as clear a manner as possible. – The papers which make up the content of this book have all been published previously : – Chapter 1, «Scientific realism», consists of material drawn from two articles : «What is scientific realism ?», Divinatio 12 (2000), 103-120, and «Scientific realism : an elaboration and a defense», Theoria 98 (2001), 35-54; – Chapter 2, «The God’s eye point of view», was originally published as «Scientific realism and the God’s eye point of view» in Epistemologia XXVII (2004), 211-226. It includes as an appendix a section from «Realism without limits», Divinatio 20 (2004), 145-165; – Chapter 3, «Truth and entity realism», was originally published as «The semantic stance of scientific entity realism» in Philosophia 24, 3-4 (1995), 405-415; – Chapter 4, «Incommensurability and the language of science», combines material which orifinally appeared in «The language of science : meaning variance and theory comparison», Language sciences 22 (2000), 117-136 and «Incommensurability : the current state of play», Theoria 12, 3 (1997), 425-445; – Chapter 5, «Induction and natural kinds», was originally published in Principia 1, 2 (1997), 239-254; – Chapter 6, «Methodological pluralism, normative naturalism and the realist aim of science», was originally published in R. Nola and H. Sankey (eds), After Popper, Kuhn and Feyerabend : recent issues in theories of scientific methods, Australasian studies in history and philosophy of science, Volume 15 (Dordrecht : Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000), 211-229; – Chapter 7, «Realism, method and truth», was originally published in M. Marsonet (ed.), The Problem of realism (Aldershot : Ashgate, 2002), 64-81; – Chapter 8, «Why is it rational to believe scientific theories are true ?», was originally published in C. Cheyne and J. Worrall (eds), Rationality and reality : conversations with Alan Musgrave (Dordrecht : Springer, 2006), 109-132. M.-M. V.
Underdetermination. An Essay on Evidence and the Limits of Natural Knowledge is a wide-ranging study of the thesis that scientific theories are systematically "underdetermined" by the data they account for. This much-debated thesis is a thorn in the side of scientific realists and methodologists of science alike and of late has been vigorously attacked. After analyzing the epistemological and ontological ascpects of the controversy in detail, and reviewing pertinent logical facts and selected scientific cases, Bonk carefully examines the merits of arguments for and against the thesis. Along the way, he investigates methodological proposals and recent theories of confirmation, which promise to discriminate among observationally equivalent theories on evidential grounds. He explores sympathetically but critically W.V.Quine and H.Putnam’s arguments for the thesis, the relationship between indeterminacy and underdetermination, and possibilities for a conventionalist solution. This book is of interest to anyone working in philosophy of science, and to those interested in the philosophy of Quine. – 1. A Humean Predicament? 1.1. Aspects of Underdetermination; 1.2. Significance of the Thesis; 1.3. Quine, Realism, and Underdetermination; 1.4. No quick solutions; 1.5. Three responses and strategies; – 2. Underdetermination Issues in the Exact Sciences; 2.1. Logical Equivalence, Interdefinability, and Isomorphism; 2.2. Theorems of Ramsey and Craig; 2.3. From Denotational Vagueness to Ontological Relativity; 2.4. Semantic Arguments: 2.5. Physical Equivalence; 2.6. Underdetermination of Geometry; – 3. Rationality, Method, and Evidence; 3.1. Deductivism Revisited; 3.2. Quine on Method and Evidence; 3.3. Instance Confirmation and Bootstrapping; 3.4. Demonstrative Induction; 3.5. Underdetermination and Inter-theory Relations; – 4. Competing Truths; 4.1. Constructivism; 4.2. Things versus Numbers; 4.3. Squares, Balls, Lines, and Points; 4.4. Algorithms; – 5. Problems of Representation; 5.1. Ambiguity 5.2. Conventionalism: Local; 5.3. Conventionalism: Global; 5.4. Verificationism and Fictionalism; – 6. Underdetermination and Indeterminacy; 6.1. Underdetermination of Translation; 6.2. Indeterminacy versus Underdetermination; 6.3. Empirical Investigation of Cognitive Meaning; 6.4. Indeterminacy and the Absence of Fact: 6.5. Quine’s Pragmatic Interpretation of Underdetermination. M.-M. V.
Scientific realism is a doctrine that was both in and out of fashion several times during the twentieth century. I begin by noting three presuppositions of a succinct characterization of scientific realism offered initially by the foremost critic in the latter part of the century, Bas van Fraassen. The first presupposition is that there is a fundamental distinction to be made between what is “empirical” and what is “theoretical”. The second presupposition is that a genuine scientific realism is committed to their being “a literally true story of what the world is like”. The third presupposition is that there are methods for justifying a belief in the empirical adequacy of a theory which do not also suffice to justify beliefs in its literal truth. Each of these presuppositions raises a number of problems, some of which are quite old and others rather newer. In each case, I briefly review some of the old problems and then elaborate the newer problems.
The axiological tenet of scientific realism, “science seeks true theories,” is generally taken to rest on a corollary epistemological tenet, “we can justifiably believe that our successful theories achieve (or approximate) that aim.” While important debates have centered on, and have led to the refinement of, the epistemological tenet, the axiological tenet has suffered from neglect. I offer what I consider to be needed refinements to the axiological postulate. After showing an intimate relation between the refined postulate and ten theoretical desiderata, I argue that the axiological postulate does not depend on its epistemological counterpart; epistemic humility can accompany us in the quest for truth. Upon contrasting my axiological postulate against the two dominant non-realist alternatives and the standard realist postulate, I contend that its explanatory and justificatory virtues render it, among the axiologies considered, the richest account of the scientific enterprise.
This paper approaches the scientific realism question from a naturalistic perspective. On the basis of a historical case study of the work of James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann on the kinetic theory of gases, it shows that scientists’ views about the epistemological status of theories and models typically interact with their scientific results. Subsequently, the implications of this result for the current realism debate are analysed. The case study supports Giere’s moderately realist view of scientific models and theories, based on the notion of similarity, and it highlights the crucial role of model users. The paper concludes with a discussion of Boltzmann’s Bildtheorie, the sophisticated form of realism that he developed in response to the scientific problems of kinetic theory.
There is good reason to believe that, if it can be decided at all, the realism debate must be decided on a posteriori grounds. But at least prima facie the prospects for an a posteriori resolution of the debate seem bleak, given that realists and antirealists disagree over two of the most fundamental questions pertaining to any kind of empirical research, to wit, what the range of accessible evidence is and what the methodological status of explanatory considerations is. The present paper aims to show that, while the difficulties that face an empirical approach to the realism debate are not to be discounted, they are not insurmountable either. Specifically, it presents a broadly Bayesian strategy for resolving the debate that is capable of solving those difficulties. The strategy crucially involves answers to the aforementioned questions that diverge from both the standard realist and the standard antirealist answers, but that should appear more natural and plausible than those to realists and antirealists alike.
Cosmology is discussed in light of the current debate on scientific realism. First, some crucial arguments against scientific realism are put into a historical context. Then, it is sketched which light they cast on physical cosmology. Recent arguments of instrumentalism, empiricism, anti-fundamentalism, historicism, and internalism are taken up. The small empirical basis and the constructive aspects of cosmology are emphasised, in particular concerning the cosmological principle. It is argued that the current disunity of physics is unavoidable, making the project of quantum cosmology problematical, whereas principles of scientific realism such as truth-as-correspondence and unity are also indispensable. Finally, the paper raises the question of internalism. Is the God’s Eye View of the universe represented by a cosmological model tenable, given that any physical knowledge is perspectival ?
Given that scientific realism is based on the assumption that there is a connection between a model's predictive success and its truth, and given the success of multiple incompatible models in scientific practice, the realist has a problem. When the different models can be shown to arise as different approximations to a unified theory, however, one might think the realist to be able to accommodate such cases. I discuss a special class of models (generated as non-uniform limits of a unified theory) and argue that a realist interpretation has to understand these models of a system as ‘perspectival’, in close analogy to different spatial perspectives onto the same object. For this sort of case, I also respond to Morrison's recent claim that in the process of unifying models into an overarching theory, explanatory and descriptive power are lost, leaving the unified theory with less of a claim to a realist interpretation than the models themselves.
‘A Philosopher Looks at Quantum Mechanics’ (Putnam ) explained why the interpretation of quantum mechanics is a philosophical problem in detail, but with only the necessary minimum of technicalities, in the hope of making the difficulties intelligible to as wide an audience as possible. When I wrote it, I had not seen Bell (), nor (of course) had I seen Ghirardi et al. (). And I did not discuss the ‘Many Worlds’ interpretation. For all these reasons, I have decided to make a similar attempt forty years later, taking account of additional interpretations and of our knowledge concerning non-locality. (The Quantum Logical interpretation proposed in Putnam  is not considered in the present paper, however, because Putnam [1994b] concluded that it was unworkable.) Rather than advocate a particular interpretation, this paper classifies the possible kinds of interpretation, subject only to the constraints of a very broadly construed scientific realism. Section 7 does, however, argue that two sorts of interpretation—ones according to which a ‘collapse’ is brought about by the measurement (e.g. the traditional ‘Copenhagen’ interpretation), and the Many Worlds interpretation or interpretations—should be ruled out. The concluding section suggests some possible morals of a cosmological character.
Philosophy of Experimental Biology explores some central philosophical issues concerning scientific research in experimental biology, including genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, developmental biology, neurobiology, and microbiology. It seeks to make sense of the explanatory strategies, concepts, ways of reasoning, approaches to discovery and problem solving, tools, models and experimental systems deployed by scientific life science researchers and also integrates developments in historical scholarship, in particular the New Experimentalism. It concludes that historical explanations of scientific change that are based on local laboratory practice need to be supplemented with an account of the epistemic norms and standards that are operative in science. This book should be of interest to philosophers and historians of science as well as to scientists. – Contents : Preface; Acknowledgements; – 1. Introduction; – 2. Reductionism and the nature of explanations; – 3. Discovery: solving biological problems; – 4. Scientific inference: testing hypotheses; – 5. Experimental systems: a life of their own?; – 6. Model organisms: of flies and elephants; – 7. Reference and conceptual change: out of Mendel's garden?; – 8. Developmental biology and the genetic program: explaining ontogeny; – 9. Scientific realism: in search of the truth. – Notes; Bibliography (p. 321-347); Index.
An enduring question in the philosophy of science is the question of whether a scientific theory deserves more credit for its successful predictions than it does for accommodating data that was already known when the theory was developed. In The Paradox of Predictivism, Eric Christian Barnes argues that the successful prediction of evidence testifies to the general credibility of the predictor in a way that evidence does not when the evidence is used in the process of endorsing the theory. He illustrates his argument with an important episode from nineteenth-century chemistry, Mendeleev's Periodic Law and its successful predictions of the existence of various elements. The consequences of this account of predictivism for the realist/anti-realist debate are considerable, and strengthen the status of the 'no miracle' argument for scientific realism. Barnes's important and original contribution to the debate will interest a wide range of readers in philosophy of science. – Contents : – 1. The paradox of predictivism; – 2. Epistemic pluralism; – 3. Predictivism and the periodic table; – 4. Miracle arguments and the demise of strong predictivism; – 5. The size of the predicting community; – 6. Back to epistemic pluralism; – 7. Postlude on old evidence; – 8. A paradox resolved. – Glossary. – Includes bibliographical references (p. 249-257) and index.
Drawing upon philosophy and social theory, Social Theory of International Politics develops a theory of the international system as a social construction. Alexander Wendt clarifies the central claims of the constructivist approach, presenting a structural and idealist worldview which contrasts with the individualism and materialism which underpins much mainstream international relations theory. He builds a cultural theory of international politics, which takes whether states view each other as enemies, rivals or friends as a fundamental determinant. Wendt characterises these roles as 'cultures of anarchy', described as Hobbesian, Lockean and Kantian respectively. These cultures are shared ideas which help shape state interests and capabilities, and generate tendencies in the international system. The book describes four factors which can drive structural change from one culture to another - interdependence, common fate, homogenization, and self-restraint - and examines the effects of capitalism and democracy in the emergence of a Kantian culture in the West.