Realism and instrumentalism in 19th-century atomism

Philosophy of Science 46 (1):1-34 (1979)
Abstract
Sometimes a theory is interpreted realistically--i.e., as literally true--whereas sometimes a theory is interpreted instrumentalistically--i.e., as merely a convenient device for summarizing, systematizing, deducing, etc., a given body of observable facts. This paper is part of a program aimed at determining the basis on which scientists decide on which of these interpretations to accept a theory. I proceed by examining one case: the nineteenth-century debates about the existence of atoms. I argue that there was a gradual transition from an instrumentalist to a realistic acceptance of the atomic theory, because of gradual increases in its predictive power, the "testedness" of its hypotheses, the "determinateness" of its quantities, and because of resolutions of doubts about the acceptability of its basic explanatory concepts
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,399
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

View all 13 citations

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

30 ( #59,369 of 1,102,963 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

8 ( #29,688 of 1,102,963 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.