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  1. Jacob Busch (2006). Entity Realism Meets the Pessimistic Meta-Induction – The World is Not Enough. SATS 7 (106):26.
    In the following I briefly set out Devitt's (1997) definition of entity realism and compare it to Hacking's (1983) definition. I then set out the pessimistic induction argument as suggested by Putnam (1978). I present an argument developed by Bertolet (1988) to the effect that Devitt's abductive defence of realism fails. In the light of its failure, Devitt offers the ability of his definition of scientific realism to solve the pessimistic induction argument as a tactical advantage for his definition. I (...)
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  2. A. Chalmers (2011). Drawing Philosophical Lessons From Perrin's Experiments on Brownian Motion: A Response to van Fraassen. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (4):711-732.
    In a recent article, van Fraassen has taken issue with the use to which Perrin’s experiments on Brownian motion have been put by philosophers, especially those defending scientific realism. He defends an alternative position by analysing the details of Perrin’s case in its historical context. In this reply, I argue that van Fraassen has not done the job well enough and I extend and in some respects attempt to correct his claims by close attention to the historical details.
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  3. Alberto Cordero, Rejected Posits, Realism, and the History of Science.
    Summary: Responding to Laudan’s skeptical reading of history an influential group of realists claim that the seriously wrong claims past successful theories licensed were not really implicated in the predictions that once singled them out as successful. For example, in the case of Fresnel’s theory of light, it is said that although he appealed to the ether he didn’t actually need to in order to derive his famous experimental predictions—in them, we are assured, the ether concept was “idle,” “inessential,” “peripheral” (...)
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  4. Elise Crull, Scientific Realism and the Case of Weak Interactions.
    Advocates of scientic realism typically respond to the challenge of the pessimistic meta-induction by turning to the history of science. The episode most frequently discussed is the shift from Fresnel's wave theory of light to Maxwell's electromagnetism. This particular history is taken to represent one of the hardest problems for the realist, for while it exhibits continuity on the empirical level, it simultaneously represents a dramatic shift in ontology. Thus, various authors have proposed methods for defeating the pessimistic meta-induction based (...)
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  5. Gerald Doppelt (2007). Reconstructing Scientific Realism to Rebut the Pessimistic Meta-Induction. Philosophy of Science 74 (1):96-118.
    This paper develops a stronger version of ‘inference-to-the-best explanation’ scientific realism. I argue against three standard assumptions of current realists: (1) realism is confirmed if it provides the best explanation of theories’ predictive success; (2) the realist claim that successful theories are always approximately true provides the best explanation of their success; and (3) realists are committed to giving the same sort of truth-based explanation of superseded theories’ success that they give to explain our best current theories’ success. On the (...)
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  6. Patrick Enfield (2008). P. Kyle Stanford Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History, and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (4):881-895.
  7. Michael Esfeld (2005). Scientific Realism and the History of Science. Philosophy 1:1-15.
    The paper considers the two main challenges to scientific realism, stemming from confirmation holism and the underdetermination thesis as well as from semantic holism and the incommensurability thesis. Against the first challenge, it is argued that there are other criteria besides agreement with experience that enable a rational evaluation of competing theories. Against the second challenge, it is argued that at most a thesis of local incommensurability can be defended that is compatible with a minimal version of scientific realism, namely (...)
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  8. Patrick Forber (2008). Forever Beyond Our Grasp? Biology and Philosophy 23 (1):135-141.
    Does science successfully uncover the deep structure of the natural world? Or are the depths forever beyond our epistemic grasp? Since the decline of logical positivism and logical empiricism, scientific realism has become the consensus view: of course our scientific theories apprehend the deep structure of the world. What else could explain the remarkable success of science? This is the explanationist defense of scientific realism, the “ultimate argument.” Kyle Stanford starts here and, using the history of theorizing about biological inheritance (...)
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  9. William H. Krieger & Brian L. Keeley (2006). The Unexpected Realist. In Brian L. Keeley (ed.), Paul Churchland. Cambridge University Press.
    There are two ways to do the unexpected. The banal way—let's call it the expectedly unexpected—is simply to chart the waters of what is and is not done, and then set out to do something different. For a philosopher, this can be done by embracing a method of non sequitor or by perhaps inverting some strongly held assumption of the field. The more interesting way— the unexpectedly unexpected—is to transform the expectations themselves; to do something new and contextualize it in (...)
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  10. A. Kukla (2010). Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History, and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives, by P. Kyle Stanford. Mind 119 (473):243-246.
    (No abstract is available for this citation).
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  11. Marc Lange (2002). Baseball, Pessimistic Inductions and the Turnover Fallacy. Analysis 62 (4):281–285.
    Among the niftiest arguments for scientific anti-realism is the ‘pessimistic induction’ (also sometimes called ‘the disastrous historical meta-induction’). Although various versions of this argument differ in their details (see, for example, Poincare 1952: 160, Putnam 1978: 25, and Laudan 1981), the argument generally begins by recalling the many scientific theories that posit unobservable entities and that at one time or another were widely accepted. The anti-realist then argues that when these old theories were accepted, the evidence for them was quite (...)
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  12. Peter J. Lewis (2001). Why the Pessimistic Induction is a Fallacy. Synthese 129 (3):371--380.
    Putnam and Laudan separately argue that the falsity of past scientific theories gives us reason to doubt the truth of current theories. Their arguments have been highly influential, and have generated a significant literature over the past couple of decades. Most of this literature attempts to defend scientific realism by attacking the historical evidence on which the premises of the relevant argument are based. However, I argue that both Putnam's and Laudan's arguments are fallacious, and hence attacking their premises is (...)
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  13. P. D. Magnus (2010). Inductions, Red Herrings, and the Best Explanation for the Mixed Record of Science. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (4):803-819.
    Kyle Stanford has recently claimed to offer a new challenge to scientific realism. Taking his inspiration from the familiar Pessimistic Induction (PI), Stanford proposes a New Induction (NI). Contra Anjan Chakravartty’s suggestion that the NI is a ‘red herring’, I argue that it reveals something deep and important about science. The Problem of Unconceived Alternatives, which lies at the heart of the NI, yields a richer anti-realism than the PI. It explains why science falls short when it falls short, and (...)
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  14. James W. McAllister (1993). Scientific Realism and the Criteria for Theory-Choice. Erkenntnis 38 (2):203 - 222.
    The central terms of certain theories which were valued highly in the past, such as the phlogiston theory, are now believed by realists not to refer. Laudan and others have claimed that, in the light of the existence of such theories, scientific realism is untenable. This paper argues in response that realism is consistent with — and indeed is able to explain — such theories' having been highly valued and yet not being close to the truth. It follows that the (...)
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  15. Sam Mitchell (2009). Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History, and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. By P. Kyle Stanford. Metaphilosophy 40 (5):719-723.
  16. Moti Mizrahi (2013). The Pessimistic Induction: A Bad Argument Gone Too Far. Synthese 190 (15):3209-3226.
    In this paper, I consider the pessimistic induction construed as a deductive argument (specifically, reductio ad absurdum) and as an inductive argument (specifically, inductive generalization). I argue that both formulations of the pessimistic induction are fallacious. I also consider another possible interpretation of the pessimistic induction, namely, as pointing to counterexamples to the scientific realist’s thesis that success is a reliable mark of (approximate) truth. I argue that this interpretation of the pessimistic induction fails, too. If this is correct, then (...)
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  17. Mark Newman (2005). Ramsey Sentence Realism as an Answer to the Pessimistic Meta-Induction. Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1373-1384.
    John Worrall recently provided an account of epistemic structural realism, which explains the success of science by arguing for the correct mathematical structure of our theories. He accounts for the historical failures of science by pointing to bloated ontological interpretations of theoretical terms. In this paper I argue that Worrall’s account suffers from five serious problems. I also show that Pierre Cruse and David Papineau have developed a rival structural realism that solves all of the problems faced by Worrall. This (...)
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  18. Seungbae Park (forthcoming). The Argument From Underconsideration Reconsidered. Acta Philosophica.
    Scientific antirealists run the argument from underconsideration against scientific realism. My reply is that the argument from underconsideration backfires on antirealists’ positive philosophical theories, such as the English model of rationality, the contextual theory of explanation, the evolutionary explanation of the success of science, and explanatory idealism. Antirealists also strengthen the argument from underconsideration with the pessimistic induction against current scientific theories. In response, I construct a pessimistic induction against antirealists’ current philosophical theories that since antirealists’ past philosophical theories have (...)
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  19. Seungbae Park (2014). A Pessimistic Induction Against Scientific Antirealism. Organon F 21 (1):3-21.
    There are nine antirealist explanations of the success of science in the literature. I raise difficulties against all of them except the latest one, and then construct a pessimistic induction that the latest one will turn out to be problematic because its eight forerunners turned out to be problematic. This pessimistic induction is on a par with the traditional pessimistic induction that successful present scientific theories will be revealed to be false because successful past scientific theories were revealed to be (...)
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  20. Seungbae Park (2014). Approximate Truth Vs. Empirical Adequacy. Epistemologia 37 (1):106-118.
    Suppose that scientific realists believe that a successful theory is approximately true, and that constructive empiricists believe that it is empirically adequate. Whose belief is more likely to be false? The problem of underdetermination does not yield an answer to this question one way or the other, but the pessimistic induction does. The pessimistic induction, if correct, indicates that successful theories, both past and current, are empirically inadequate. It is arguable, however, that they are approximately true. Therefore, scientific realists overall (...)
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  21. Seungbae Park (2014). On the Evolutionary Defense of Scientific Antirealism. Axiomathes 24 (2):263-273.
    Van Fraassen (1980) claims that successful theories exist today because successful theories survive and unsuccessful ones die. Wray (2007, 2010) appeals to Stanford’s new pessimistic induction (2006), arguing that van Fraassen’s selectionist explanation is better than the realist explanation that successful theories exist because they are approximately true. I argue that if the pessimistic induction is correct, then the evolutionary explanation is neither true nor empirically adequate, and that realism is better than selectionism because realism explains more phenomena in science (...)
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  22. Seungbae Park (2011). A Confutation of the Pessimistic Induction. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 42 (1):75-84.
    The pessimistic induction holds that successful past scientific theories are completely false, so successful current ones are completely false too. I object that past science did not perform as poorly as the pessimistic induction depicts. A close study of the history of science entitles us to construct an optimistic induction that would neutralize the pessimistic induction. Also, even if past theories were completely false, it does not even inductively follow that the current theories will also turn out to be completely (...)
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  23. Seungbae Park (2011). Coherence of Our Best Scientific Theories. Foundations of Science 16 (1):21-30.
    Putnam (1975) infers from the success of a scientific theory to its approximate truth and the reference of its key term. Laudan (1981) objects that some past theories were successful, and yet their key terms did not refer, so they were not even approximately true. Kitcher (1993) replies that the past theories are approximately true because their working posits are true, although their idle posits are false. In contrast, I argue that successful theories which cohere with each other are approximately (...)
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  24. Stathis Psillos, Is the History of Science the Wasteland of False Theories?
    Imagine you live in 1823 and you are about to design an advanced course on the theory of heat. About fifty years ago, Lavoisier and Laplace had posited caloric as a material substance—an indestructible fluid of fine particles—which was taken to be the cause of heat and in particular, the cause of the rise of temperature of a body, by being absorbed by the body. No doubt, you rely on the best available theory, which is the caloric theory. In particular, (...)
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  25. Stathis Psillos (1996). Scientific Realism and the 'Pessimistic Induction'. Philosophy of Science 63 (3):314.
    Philosophy of Science, Volume 63, Issue Supplement. Proceedings of the 1996 Biennial Meetings of the Philosophy of Science Association. Part I: Contributed Papers (Sep.
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  26. Sherrilyn Roush (2010). Optimism About the Pessimistic Induction. In P. D. Magnus & Jacob Busch (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Science. Palgrave Macmillan.
    How confident does the history of science allow us to be about our current well-tested scientific theories, and why? The scientific realist thinks we are well within our rights to believe our best-tested theories, or some aspects of them, are approximately true.2 Ambitious arguments have been made to this effect, such as that over historical time our scientific theories are converging to the truth, that the retention of concepts and claims is evidence for this, and that there can be no (...)
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  27. Juha Saatsi (2012). Scientific Realism and Historical Evidence: Shortcomings of the Current State of Debate. In Henk W. de Regt (ed.), EPSA Philosophy of Science: Amsterdam 2009. Springer. 329--340.
    This paper discusses three shortcomings of the current state of the debate regarding historical evidence against scientific realism. Attending to these issues will direct the debate away from over-generalising wholesale arguments.
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  28. Juha Saatsi (2005). On the Pessimistic Induction and Two Fallacies. Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1088-1098.
    The Pessimistic Induction from falsity of past theories forms a perennial argument against scientific realism. This paper considers and rebuts two recent arguments—due to Lewis (2001) and Lange (2002)—to the conclusion that the Pessimistic Induction (in its best known form) is fallacious. It re-establishes the dignity of the Pessimistic Induction by calling to mind the basic objective of the argument, and hence restores the propriety of the realist program of responding to PMI by undermining one or another of its premises.
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  29. P. K. Stanford (2006). Darwin's Pangenesis and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (1):121-144.
    In earlier work I have argued that the most substantial threat to scientific realism arises from the problem of unconceived alternatives: the repeated failure of past scientists and scientific communities to conceive of alternatives to extant scientific theories, even when such alternatives were both (1) well confirmed by the evidence available at the time and (2) sufficiently scientifically serious as to be later embraced by actual scientific communities. In this paper I explore Charles Darwin's development and defense of his 'pangenesis' (...)
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  30. P. Kyle Stanford (2006). Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History, and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. Oxford University Press.
    The incredible achievements of modern scientific theories lead most of us to embrace scientific realism: the view that our best theories offer us at least roughly accurate descriptions of otherwise inaccessible parts of the world like genes, atoms, and the big bang. In Exceeding Our Grasp, Stanford argues that careful attention to the history of scientific investigation invites a challenge to this view that is not well represented in contemporary debates about the nature of the scientific enterprise. The historical record (...)
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  31. P. Kyle Stanford (2006). Francis Galton's Theory of Inheritance and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. Biology and Philosophy 21 (4):523-536.
    Elsewhere I have argued that the most significant threat to scientific realism arises from what I call the problem of unconceived alternatives: the repeated failure of past scientists and scientific communities to even conceive of alternatives to extant scientific theories, even when such alternatives were both (1) well-confirmed by the evidence available at the time and (2) sufficiently scientifically serious as to be actually embraced in the course of further investigation. In this paper I explore Francis Galton’s development and defense (...)
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  32. P. Kyle Stanford (2003). No Refuge for Realism: Selective Confirmation and the History of Science. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):913-925.
    Realists respond to Laudan's Pessimistic Induction with what I call the selective confirmation strategy: arguing that only idle parts of past theories have been rejected, while truly success-generating features have been confirmed by further inquiry. I argue first that this strategy is unconvincing without some prospectively applicable criterion of idleness for theoretical posits, and second, that existing efforts to provide one either convict all theoretical posits of idleness (Kitcher) or stand refuted by detailed consideration of the very examples (optical/electromagnetic ether, (...)
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  33. P. Kyle Stanford (2003). No Refuge for Realism: Selective Confirmation and the History of Science. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):913-925.
    Realists have responded to challenges from the historical record of successful but ultimately rejected theories with what I call the selective confirmation strategy: arguing that only idle parts of past theories have been rejected, while truly success‐generating features have been confirmed by further inquiry. I argue first, that this strategy is unconvincing without some prospectively applicable criterion of idleness for theoretical posits, and second, that existing efforts to provide one either convict all theoretical posits of idleness (Kitcher) or stand refuted (...)
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  34. Ioannis Votsis, Caloric: Centre or Offstage?
    The pessimistic induction argument, most often associated with Larry Laudan, is now widely considered to be one of the main obstacles for realism. Put simply, the argument holds that since past predictively successful scientific theories have eventually been discarded, we have inductive evidence that our current theories will also be discarded one day. More precisely, Laudan undermines the inference from the explanatory and predictive success of a theory to its approximate truth and referential success. This paper criticises a particular kind (...)
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  35. Ioannis Votsis (2007). Review of Kyle Stanford’s Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. [REVIEW] International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):103 – 106.
    In recent years, two challenges stand out against scientific realism: the argument from the underdetermination of theories by evidence (UTE) and the pessimistic induction argument (PI). In his book, Kyle Stanford accepts the gravity of these challenges, but argues that the most serious and powerful challenge to scientific realism has been neglected. The problem of unconceived alternatives (PUA), as he calls it, is introduced in chapter one and refined in chapter two. In short, PUA holds that throughout history scientists have (...)
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  36. Ioannis Votsis (2004). The Epistemological Status of Scientific Theories: An Investigation of the Structural Realist Account. Dissertation, London School of Economics
    In this dissertation, I examine a view called ‘Epistemic Structural Realism’, which holds that we can, at best, have knowledge of the structure of the physical world. Put crudely, we can know physical objects only to the extent that they are nodes in a structure. In the spirit of Occam’s razor, I argue that, given certain minimal assumptions, epistemic structural realism provides a viable and reasonable scientific realist position that is less vulnerable to anti-realist arguments than any of its rivals.
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  37. John Worrall, Miracles, Pessimism and Scientific Realism.
    Worrall ([1989]) argued that structural realism provides a ‘synthesis’ of the main pro-realist argument – the ‘No Miracles Argument’, and the main anti-realist argument – the ‘Pessimistic Induction’. More recently, however, it has been claimed (Howson [2000] and Lewis [2001], respectively) that each of these arguments is an instance of the same probabilistic fallacy – sometimes called the ‘base-rate fallacy’. If correct, this clearly seems to undermine structural realism and Magnus and Callender have indeed claimed that both arguments are fallacious (...)
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  38. John Worrall (1982). Scientific Realism and Scientific Change. Philosophical Quarterly 32 (128):201-231.
    The topic of the paper is the "realism-Instrumentalism" debate concerning the status of scientific theories. Popper's contributions to this debate are critically examined. In the first part his arguments against instrumentalism are considered; it is claimed that none strikes home against better versions of the doctrine (specifically those developed by duhem and poincare). In the second part, Various arguments against realism propounded by duhem and/or poincare (and much discussed by more recent philosophers) are evaluated. These are the arguments from the (...)
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  39. K. Brad Wray (2013). Success and Truth in the Realism/Anti-Realism Debate. Synthese 190 (9):1719-1729.
    I aim to clarify the relationship between the success of a theory and the truth of that theory. This has been a central issue in the debates between realists and anti-realists. Realists assume that success is a reliable indicator of truth, but the details about the respects in which success is a reliable indicator or test of truth have been largely left to our intuitions. Lewis (Synthese 129:371–380, 2001) provides a clear proposal of how success and truth might be connected, (...)
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  40. K. Brad Wray (2013). The Pessimistic Induction and the Exponential Growth of Science Reassessed. Synthese 190 (18):4321-4330.
    My aim is to evaluate a new realist strategy for addressing the pessimistic induction, Ludwig Fahrbach’s (Synthese 180:139–155, 2011) appeal to the exponential growth of science. Fahrbach aims to show that, given the exponential growth of science, the history of science supports realism. I argue that Fahrbach is mistaken. I aim to show that earlier generations of scientists could construct a similar argument, but one that aims to show that the theories that they accepted are likely true. The problem with (...)
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