Reconstructing Scientific Realism to Rebut the Pessimistic Meta-induction

Philosophy of Science 74 (1):96-118 (2007)
This paper develops a stronger version of ‘inference-to-the-best explanation’ <span class='Hi'>scientific</span> <span class='Hi'>realism</span>. I argue against three standard assumptions of <span class='Hi'>current</span> realists: (1) <span class='Hi'>realism</span> is confirmed if it provides the best explanation of theories’ predictive <span class='Hi'>success</span>; (2) the realist claim that successful theories are always approximately true provides the best explanation of their <span class='Hi'>success</span>; and (3) realists are committed to giving the same sort of truth-based explanation of superseded theories’ <span class='Hi'>success</span> that they give to explain our best <span class='Hi'>current</span> theories’ <span class='Hi'>success</span>. On the positive side, I argue that (1) the confirmation of <span class='Hi'>realism</span> requires explaining theories’ <span class='Hi'>explanatory</span> <span class='Hi'>success</span>, not just their predictive <span class='Hi'>success</span>; (2) in turn this task requires a richer realist model of explanation that brings into the explanans both (a) successful theories’ epistemic virtues (e.g., unification and simplicity) and (b) the standards governing these virtues, as well as truth; (3) this richer realist model is further confirmed because it can better explain the <span class='Hi'>success</span> of theories in gaining wide acceptance among scientists; and (4) the model is further supported because it is superior to ‘preservative <span class='Hi'>realism</span>’ in providing a plausible rebuttal of the pessimistic meta-induction from the many past successful-but-false theories to the like- lihood that our best <span class='Hi'>current</span> theories are likewise false.
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DOI 10.1086/520685
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Seungbae Park (2011). A Confutation of the Pessimistic Induction. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 42 (1):75-84.
Samuel Ruhmkorff (2014). Global and Local Pessimistic Meta-Inductions. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (4):409-428.

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