David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophy of Science 46 (1):1-34 (1979)
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)|
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
Steven Savitt (1993). Selective Scientific Realism, Constructive Empiricism, and the Unification of Theories. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 18 (1):154-165.
Stathis Psillos (2011). Moving Molecules Above the Scientific Horizon: On Perrin's Case for Realism. [REVIEW] Journal for General Philosophy of Science 42 (2):339-363.
Bas C. van Fraassen (2009). The Perils of Perrin, in the Hands of Philosophers. Philosophical Studies 143 (1):5 - 24.
Richard Montgomery (1990). The Reductionist Ideal in Cognitive Psychology. Synthese 85 (November):279-314.
Eduardo Castro (2013). Defending the Indispensability Argument: Atoms, Infinity and the Continuum. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 44 (1):41-61.
Similar books and articles
Darrell P. Rowbottom (2011). The Instrumentalist's New Clothes. Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1200-1211.
Paul Needham (2008). Resisting Chemical Atomism: Duhem's Argument. Philosophy of Science 75 (5):921-931.
Daniel J. Nicholson (2010). Biological Atomism and Cell Theory. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 41 (3):202-211.
Paul Needham (2004). Has Daltonian Atomism Provided Chemistry with Any Explanations? Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1038-1047.
Elliott Sober (2001). Instrumentalism Revisited. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 2001 (91):3 - 39.
Mark Sprevak (forthcoming). Realism and Instrumentalism. In H. Pashler (ed.), The Encyclopedia of the Mind. SAGE Publications.
Peter Barker & Bernard R. Goldstein (1998). Realism and Instrumentalism in Sixteenth Century Astronomy: A Reappraisal. Perspectives on Science 6 (3):232-258.
Nicholas Maxwell (1993). Does Orthodox Quantum Theory Undermine, or Support, Scientific Realism? Philosophical Quarterly 44 (171):139-157.
Torsten Wilholt (2008). When Realism Made a Difference: The Constitution of Matter and its Conceptual Enigmas in Late 19th Century Physics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (1):1-16.
Paul Needham (2004). When Did Atoms Begin to Do Any Explanatory Work in Chemistry? International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (2 & 3):199 – 219.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads29 ( #59,060 of 1,098,965 )
Recent downloads (6 months)10 ( #19,089 of 1,098,965 )
How can I increase my downloads?