David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophy of Science 72 (5):839-849 (2005)
In the nineteenth century, William Whewell claimed that his confirmation criterion of consilience was a truth-guarantor: we could, he believed, be certain that a consilient theory was true. Since that time Whewell has been much ridiculed for this claim by critics such as J. S. Mill and Bas van Fraassen. I have argued elsewhere that, while Whewell's claim that consilience can guarantee the truth of a theory is clearly wrong, consilience is indeed quite useful as a confirmation criterion (Snyder 2005). Here I will show that, even when consilience gives evidence for a theory that turns out to be false, there is an important sense in which consilience shows that the theory has captured something correct about the natural-kind structure of the physical world. Whewell was therefore correct to claim that consilience provides a "criterion of reality" (Whewell  1967, vol. 2, 68). Consilience provides this by giving justification for the claim that we have really `cut nature at its causal joints', to adapt Plato's famous phrase. Because of this, consilience can play a role in an argument for scientific realism.
|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
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Phillip J. Rody (1978). (C) Instances, the Relevance Criterion, and the Paradoxes of Confirmation. Philosophy of Science 45 (2):289-302.
Menachem Fisch (1985). Whewell's Consilience of Inductions--An Evaluation. Philosophy of Science 52 (2):239-255.
Larry Laudan (1971). William Whewell on the Consilience of Inductions. The Monist 55 (3):368-391.
Malcolm R. Forster (1988). The Confirmation of Common Component Causes. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:3 - 9.
Chris Eliasmith & Paul Thagard (1997). Waves, Particles, and Explanatory Coherence. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (1):1-19.
Timothy McGrew (2003). Confirmation, Heuristics, and Explanatory Reasoning. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (4):553-567.
Malcolm R. Forster (2006). Counterexamples to a Likelihood Theory of Evidence. Minds and Machines 16 (3):319-338.
Allen MacNeill, TIDAC: Identity, Analogy, and Logical Argument in Science. The Evolution List.
Laura J. Snyder (1997). Discoverers' Induction. Philosophy of Science 64 (4):580-604.
Laura J. Snyder (2005). Confirmation for a Modest Realism. Philosophy of Science 72 (5):839-849.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads150 ( #7,040 of 1,679,339 )
Recent downloads (6 months)27 ( #7,542 of 1,679,339 )
How can I increase my downloads?