David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 93:89 - 104 (1993)
Is it ever rational to believe that a scientific theory is even approximately true? The evidence, however extensive, will not entail the theory it supports: the grounds for belief always remain inductive. Consequently, the realist who holds that there can be rational grounds for belief remains hostage to wholesale Humean scepticism about induction. The Humean argument has yet to be conclusively turned, but that project is not my present concern. Instead, I propose to consider intermediate forms of scepticism which attempt to show that, even if we grant scientists considerable inductive powers, rational belief in theory remains impossible. I will argue that some of these intermediate forms of scepticism are unstable, leading either back to radical Humean doubt or towards a moderate realism. I will focus especially on the argument from `underconsideration'. This argument has two premises. The ranking premise states that the testing of theories yields only a comparative warrant. Scientists can rank the competing theories they have generated with respect to likelihood of truth. The premise grants that this process is known to be highly reliable, so that the more probable theory is always ranked ahead of a less probable competitor and the truth, if it is among the theories generated, is likely to be ranked first, but the warrant remains comparative. In short, testing enables scientists to say which of the competing theories they have generated is likeliest to be correct, but does not itself reveal how likely the likeliest theory is. The second premise of the argument, the no-privilege premise, states that scientists have no reason to suppose that the process by which they generate theories for testing makes it likely that a true theory will be among those generated. It always remains possible that the truth lies rather among those theories nobody has considered, and there is no way of judging how likely this is. The conclusion of the argument is that, while the best of the....
|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
Adolfas Mackonis (2013). Inference to the Best Explanation, Coherence and Other Explanatory Virtues. Synthese 190 (6):975-995.
S. Okasha (2000). Van Fraassen's Critique of Inference to the Best Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 31 (4):691-710.
Tim Lewens (2008). In Memoriam: Peter Lipton. Philosophy of Science 75 (2):133-139.
Jonah N. Schupbach (2013). Is the Bad Lot Objection Just Misguided? Erkenntnis (1):1-10.
Heather Douglas & P. D. Magnus (2013). State of the Field: Why Novel Prediction Matters. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (4):580-589.
Similar books and articles
Andrew Moon (2012). Warrant Does Entail Truth. Synthese 184 (3):287-297.
Ralph Wedgwood (1995). Theories of Content and Theories of Motivation. European Journal of Philosophy 3 (3):273-288.
Kareem Khalifa (2010). Default Privilege and Bad Lots: Underconsideration and Explanatory Inference. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 24 (1):91 – 105.
Andre Kukla (1994). Non-Empirical Theoretical Virtues and the Argument From Underdetermination. Erkenntnis 41 (2):157 - 170.
[author unknown] (1929). Science and Reality. Journal of Philosophical Studies 4 (16):580-581.
Andre Kukla (1996). Does Every Theory Have Empirically Equivalent Rivals? Erkenntnis 44 (2):137 - 166.
Duncan Macintosh (1994). Partial Convergence and Approximate Truth. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 (1):153-170.
Jesse Hobbs (1994). A Limited Defense of the Pessimistic Induction. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 (1):171-191.
K. Brad Wray (2008). The Argument From Underconsideration as Grounds for Anti-Realism: A Defence. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 22 (3):317 – 326.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads38 ( #53,053 of 1,410,448 )
Recent downloads (6 months)9 ( #25,266 of 1,410,448 )
How can I increase my downloads?