David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Synthese 180 (2):139 - 155 (2011)
This paper outlines a defense of scientific realism against the pessimistic meta-induction which appeals to the phenomenon of the exponential growth of science. Here, scientific realism is defined as the view that our current successful scientific theories are mostly approximately true, and pessimistic meta-induction is the argument that projects the occurrence of past refutations of successful theories to the present concluding that many or most current successful scientific theories are false. The defense starts with the observation that at least 80% of all scientific work ever done has been done since 1950, proceeds with the claim that practically all of our most successful theories were entirely stable during that period of time, and concludes that the projection of refutations of successful theories to the present is unsound. In addition to this defense, the paper offers a framework through which scientific realism can be compared with two types of anti-realism. The framework is also of help to examine the relationships between these three positions and the three main arguments offered respectively in their support (No-miracle argument, pessimistic meta-induction, underdetermination)
|Keywords||Scientific realism Pessimistic meta-induction Exponential growth of science Empiricism No-miracles argument|
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References found in this work BETA
James Ladyman (2007). Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized. Oxford University Press.
P. Kyle Stanford (2006). Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History, and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. Oxford University Press.
Larry Laudan (1981). A Confutation of Convergent Realism. Philosophy of Science 48 (1):19-49.
Jarrett Leplin (1997). A Novel Defense of Scientific Realism. Oxford University Press.
Alexander Bird (2007). What is Scientific Progress? Noûs 41 (1):64–89.
Citations of this work BETA
Moti Mizrahi (forthcoming). Historical Inductions, Unconceived Alternatives, and Unconceived Objections. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie:1-10.
K. Brad Wray (2013). The Pessimistic Induction and the Exponential Growth of Science Reassessed. Synthese 190 (18):4321-4330.
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