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Scientific realism and experimental practice in high-energy physics

Synthese 86 (1):29 - 76 (1991)
The issue of scientific realism is discussed in terms of the specific details of the practice of experimental meson and baryon spectroscopy in the field of High-Energy Physics (HEP), during the period from 1966 to 1970. The philosophical positions of I. Hacking, A. Fine, J. Leplin, and N. Rescher that concern scientific realism are presented in such a manner as to allow for the evaluation of their appropriateness in the description of this experimental research field. This philosophical analysis focuses on the empirical adequacy of these four philosophical models that purport to describe the process of acquiring knowledge of the physical world. In this specific case, an experiment performed by the HEP research group at the University of Notre Dame to study the scattering interaction.
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