Toward a purely axiological scientific realism

Erkenntnis 63 (2):167 - 204 (2005)
Abstract
The axiological tenet of scientific realism, “science seeks true theories,” is generally taken to rest on a corollary epistemological tenet, “we can justifiably believe that our successful theories achieve (or approximate) that aim.” While important debates have centered on, and have led to the refinement of, the epistemological tenet, the axiological tenet has suffered from neglect. I offer what I consider to be needed refinements to the axiological postulate. After showing an intimate relation between the refined postulate and ten theoretical desiderata, I argue that the axiological postulate does not depend on its epistemological counterpart; epistemic humility can accompany us in the quest for truth. Upon contrasting my axiological postulate against the two dominant non-realist alternatives and the standard realist postulate, I contend that its explanatory and justificatory virtues render it, among the axiologies considered, the richest account of the scientific enterprise.
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