Scientific realism, scientific practice, and the natural ontological attitude

Both sides in the debate about scientific realism have argued that their view provides a better account of actual scientific practice. For example, it has been claimed that the practice of theory conjunction presupposes realism, and that scientists' use of multiple and incompatible models presupposes some form of instrumentalism. Assuming that the practices of science are rational, these conclusions cannot both be right. I argue that neither of them is right, and that, in fact, all scientific practices are compatible with both realism and instrumentalism. I also repudiate van Fraassen's argument to the effect that the instrumentalist account of scientific practice is logically weaker, hence better, than the realist account. In the end, there are no scientific practice arguments on the table that support either side of the debate. It is also noted that the deficiencies of van Fraassen's argument are recapitulated in Putnam's miracle argument for realism. My pessimistic assessment of the state of the debate is reminiscent of Arthur Fine's. However, Fine's argument for the ‘natural ontological attitude’ once again repeats the problems of van Fraassen's and Putnam's arguments.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/bjps/45.4.955
 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: 16,667
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.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Stathis Psillos (2000). Agnostic Empiricism Versus Scientific Realism: Belief in Truth Matters. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 14 (1):57 – 75.
Mario Alai (2012). Levin and Ghins on the “No Miracle” Argument and Naturalism. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):85-110.
Paul Hoyningen-Huene, Eric Oberheim & Hanne Andersen (1996). On Incommensurability. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 27 (1):131-141.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

223 ( #7,222 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

95 ( #13,685 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

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