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 22 (3):317 – 326 (2008)
The anti-realist argument from underconsideration focuses on the fact that, when scientists evaluate theories, they only ever consider a subset of the theories that can account for the available data. As a result, when scientists judge one theory to be superior to competitor theories, they are not warranted in drawing the conclusion that the superior theory is likely true with respect to what it says about unobservable entities and processes. I defend the argument from underconsideration from the objections of Peter Lipton. I argue that the inconsistency that Lipton claims to find in the argument vanishes once we understand what the anti-realist means when she claims that scientists are reliable. I also argue that collapsing the distinction between relative and absolute evaluations, as Lipton recommends, has its costs. Finally, I briefly examine Richard Boyd's influential defence of realism.
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