Optimism about the pessimistic induction

In P. D. Magnus & Jacob Busch (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Science. Palgrave Macmillan (2010)
Abstract
How confident does the history of science allow us to be about our current well-tested scientific theories, and why? The scientific realist thinks we are well within our rights to believe our best-tested theories, or some aspects of them, are approximately true.2 Ambitious arguments have been made to this effect, such as that over historical time our scientific theories are converging to the truth, that the retention of concepts and claims is evidence for this, and that there can be no other serious explanation of the success of science than that its theories are approximately true. There is appeal in each of these ideas, but making such strong claims has tended to be hazardous, leaving us open to charges that many typical episodes in the history of science just do not fit the model. (See, e.g., Laudan 1981.) Arguing for a realist attitude via general claims – properties ascribed to sets of theories, trends we see in progressions of theories, and claimed links between general properties like success and truth that apply or fail to apply to any theory regardless of its content – is like arguing for or via a theory of science, which brings with it the obligation to defend that theory. I think a realist attitude toward particular scientific theories for which we have evidence can be maintained rationally without such a theory, even in the face of the pessimistic induction over the history of science. The starting point at which questions arise as to what we have a right to believe about our theories is one where we have theories and evidence for them, and we are involved in the activity of apportioning our belief in each particular theory or hypothesis in accord with the strength of the particular evidence.3 The devil’s advocate sees our innocence and tries his best to sow seeds of doubt. If our starting point is as I say, though, the innocent believer in particular theories does not have to play offense and propose sweeping views about science in general, but only to respond to the skeptic’s challenges; the burden of initial argument is on the skeptic..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 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: 10,273
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.

Citations of this work BETA
Sherrilyn Roush (2009). Replies. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (1):240-247.
Sherrilyn Roush (2009). Replies. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (1):240-247.
Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

93 ( #11,773 of 1,096,329 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #58,557 of 1,096,329 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


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