Heat in Inter-theory Relations

In scientific realist eyes we are only warranted to assert that a theory is true or approximately true if that theory enjoys considerable explanatory and predictive success. The most well known challenge to this claim, the pessimistic meta-induction, holds that the history of science is replete with successful theories that are now considered false. In effect, this challenge raises doubts about the reliability of inferences from explanatory and predictive success to (approximate) truth. The main realist reaction has been to argue that upon closer scrutiny the historical record can be reconciled with scientific realism. When a successful theory is abandoned, not all of its components are discarded but only those that are inessential or idle for the theory’s success. Their abandonment is thus inconsequential for the realist. In this talk I consider what the modern kinetic theory of heat managed to salvage from the outdated caloric theory and whether the inter-theoretic relations between the two theories support a realist view of science
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