David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 12 (2):151 – 164 (1998)
In Extragalactic Reality: The Case of Gravitational Lensing Hacking resumes the discussion of scientific realism from the last chapter of Representing and Intervening. Since the criterion of manipulability cannot be applied to astronomical objects, experimental entity realism seems to be restricted to terrestrial entities. In fact, Hacking explicitly argues against astronomical realism. The case at issue is the existence of gravitational lenses. In this paper, I question Hacking's chief witness for astronomical antirealism: the gravitational lens system “0957+ 561”. It will be shown that Hacking's argumentation is misleading. Discussing astronomical realism as theory realism, Hacking focuses on the question of how to infer the existence of gravitational lenses from the truth of gravitational lens theory. But neither the reconstruction of gravitational lensing in terms of inference to the best explanation (IBE) nor the argument of underdetermination are tenable under closer inspection. My thesis is that a realist account of gravitational lensing can be given by relying on observation, causal capacities and home truths.
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