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Profile: Ioannis Votsis (Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf)
  1. Ioannis Votsis, Epistemic and Ontic Commitments: In Perfect Alignment?
    The epistemic form of structural realism asserts that our knowledge of the world is restricted to its structural features. Several proponents of this view assume that the world possesses non-structural features; features which, according to their view, cannot be known. In other words, they assume that there is, or, there ought to be (on the basis of normative arguments in epistemology), always a gap between our epistemological and ontological commitments. The ontic form of structural realism denies that this is, or (...)
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  2. Ioannis Votsis, 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 (...)
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  3. Ioannis Votsis, Simplicity as a Guide to Falsity?
    Participants in the debate about whether simplicity is a guide to truth or merely pragmatically useful typically wrangle over two problems: (1) how to weigh simplicity against other virtues like strength and fitness and (2) whether there is a unique measure for simplicity that straps it to truth. I would like to put forth a third problem: (3) Even if problems (1) and (2) could be solved, it is far from clear whether the simplest theory out of an available class (...)
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  4. Ioannis Votsis, Structural Realism and Causation: An Unhappy Marriage?
    It has recently been objected that structural realism, in its various guises, is unable to adequately account for causal phenomena (see, for example, Psillos 2006). In this talk, I consider whether structural realism has the resources to address this objection.
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  5. Ioannis Votsis, Structural Realism: From an Epistemological Point of View.
    Structural realism is a rather popular view in philosophy of science. As with many popular views, sprouting is never far behind. No sprout has had as much grip on the view’s image as ontic structural realism. Indeed its supporters have such a stranglehold that ‘structural realism’ has almost become a byword for their views. In this talk, I want to redress this imbalance by returning to structural realism’s humble epistemic beginnings to examine exactly what made the view so attractive in (...)
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  6. Ioannis Votsis, Structural Realism Meets the Social Sciences.
    Structural realism is arguably one of the most influential movements to have emerged in philosophy of science in the last decade or so. Advocates of this movement attempt to answer epistemological and/or ontological questions concerning science by arguing that the key to all such questions is the mathematical formalism of a theory. This is so, according to structural realists, because the mathematical formalism encodes all and only what is important about a theory’s target domain, namely its structure. Almost without exception, (...)
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  7. Ioannis Votsis, Science with Artificially Intelligent Agents: The Case of Gerrymandered Hypotheses.
    Barring some civilisation-ending natural or man-made catastrophe, future scientists will likely incorporate fully fledged artificially intelligent agents in their ranks. Their tasks will include the conjecturing, extending and testing of hypotheses. At present human scientists have a number of methods to help them carry out those tasks. These range from the well-articulated, formal and unexceptional rules to the semi-articulated rules-of-thumb and intuitive hunches. If we are to hand over at least some of the aforementioned tasks to artificially intelligent agents, we (...)
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  8. Ioannis Votsis, The Logic of Crucial Experiments.
    Although Duhem’s thesis that in physics crucial experiments are impossible contains some grains of truth in it, its effects have been greatly exaggerated. In this talk I argue against this and other associated theses by pointing out the various ways in which these theses can be curtailed. In the process of doing so, I examine a few recent attempts to overcome the problems posed by these theses and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
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  9. Ioannis Votsis, The Scope of Fiction: Comments on Tim Button's 'Where Fiction Ends and Reality Begins' 'Where Fiction Ends and Reality Begins'.
    • Suppose further that you want to be able to treat all sorts of discourses as fiction, i.e. not just literary fiction but also ethics, mathematics, science, parts thereof, etc.
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  10. Gerhard Schurz & Ioannis Votsis, A Preliminary Application of Frame-Theory to the Philosophy of Science: The Phlogiston-Oxygen Case.
    In the first part of this paper we investigate how scientific theories can be represented by frames. Different kinds of scientific theories can be distinguished in terms of the systematic power of their frames. In the second part we outline the central questions and goals of our research project. In the third and final part of this paper we show that frame-representation is a useful tool in the comparison of the theories of phlogiston and oxygen, despite those theories being traditionally (...)
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  11. Ioannis Votsis, Caloric: Centre or Offstage?
    The pessimistic induction argument, most often associated with Larry Laudan, is now widely considered to be one of the main obstacles for realism. Put simply, the argument holds that since past predictively successful scientific theories have eventually been discarded, we have inductive evidence that our current theories will also be discarded one day. More precisely, Laudan undermines the inference from the explanatory and predictive success of a theory to its approximate truth and referential success. This paper criticises a particular kind (...)
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  12. Ioannis Votsis, Deflating Scientific Explanation, or How to Make the Realist Raft Float.
    The paper is divided into three parts. The first part identifies one of the main problems with many current accounts of the notion of explanation: The unreasonable demand, proposed by Michael Scriven and subsequently adopted by many philosophers, that we must square our account of scientific explanation to our intuitions about explanations in everyday contexts. It is first pointed out that the failure to provide a satisfactory account is not endemic to the notion of explanation, i.e. it is widespread amongst (...)
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  13. Ioannis Votsis, Evidential Equivalence.
    In this article I probe the consequences and limits of the underdetermination thesis and the empirical equivalence thesis, using Laudan and Leplin's fecund article as a springboard. Although a realist at heart, my primary intention is not to undermine the anti-realist arguments but rather to try to precisify the challenge the realist, and more generally the participant in the scientific realism debate, faces.
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  14. Ioannis Votsis, Ecumenical Empiricism.
    Empiricism has been a pivotal philosophical topic for more than two millennia. Several Sophists, Aristotle, the Epicureans, Sextus Empiricus, Francis Bacon, Locke, Hume, Mill, Mach and the Logical Empiricists represent a long line of historically influential empiricists who share a prioritising of the sensory over all other forms of knowledge. The latest influential incarnation, Bas van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism, takes science to aim at empirically adequate theories, i.e. theories that save all and only the observable phenomena. Roughly put, an (...)
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  15. Ioannis Votsis, Extracting Evidence From Observation.
    Basu (2003): For observations to be of use in theory testing, they need to be transformed into evidence via a theoretical process. Evidence is theory-laden.
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  16. Ioannis Votsis, Metaphilosophical Ruminations on Theoretical Term Reference.
    Most scientific realists nowadays would endorse an argument like the following: The empirical and explanatory success of theories or theory-parts is a good indicator of their approximate truth. In turn, approximate truth is a good indicator of referential success. Successor theories typically preserve all of the empirical and explanatory success of their predecessors as well as add to it. They are thus in general strictly more approximately true than their predecessors. Moreover, by preserving their predecessors’ approximately true parts they preserve (...)
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  17. Ioannis Votsis, Scientific Representation and Perspective.
    Consider the aims of the following three influential philosophical views. The semantic view of theories aims to supply the proper form and content of scientific theories. Structural realism aspires to delimit the epistemology and ontology of science. Mathematical structuralism seeks to reveal the epistemological and ontological nature of – you guessed it – mathematical objects. Given their divergent aims they may seem like unlikely bedfellows, but the semantic view of theories, structural realism and mathematical structuralism share enough ground to be (...)
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  18. Ioannis Votsis, Structural Realism: Invariance Through Theory Change.
    Structural realism has various diverse manifestations. One of the things that structural realists of all stripes have in common is their endorsement of what I call 'the structural continuity claim'. Roughly, this is the idea that the structure of successful scientific theories survives theory change because it has latched on to the structure of the world. In this talk I elaborate, elucidate and modify the structural continuity claim and its associated argument. I do so without presupposing a particular conception of (...)
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  19. Ioannis Votsis, Seeing the Same Things.
    The concern with the objectivity of observations is as old as empirical study itself. Protagoras’ assertion that ‘Man is the measure of all things’, though not particularly directed at observations, raised general doubts concerning the objectivity of our beliefs. In the twentieth century, the concern has been brought under the banner ‘theory-ladenness of observation’. In simple terms, since observations are conducted and formulated in theory-specific contexts, they are inadvertently imbued with the prejudices of those contexts - the terms ‘theory’ and (...)
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  20. Ioannis Votsis, The Double Life of Evidence: From the Streets to the Labs.
    An integral part of the schooling of scientists, especially experimental ones, is the cultivation of the significance and role of scientific evidence. Naturally this schooling is not conducted in vacuuo. Budding scientists already have experiences of, and intuitions about, the use of evidence in everyday life. In this talk I take a sustained look at the relations between common-sense notions of evidence and scientific ones. Among other things, I argue that scientific notions of evidence and associated practices are in many (...)
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  21. Ioannis Votsis, The Media Are an Obstacle to Peace.
    THE NOUN ‘Turk’ has a peculiar meaning for a significant number of Greek Cypriots. Among other things, it connotes something feared, untrustworthy, and even hated. Some people are all too happy to blame the Turks for almost anything. No distinction is made, for example, between the 1974 invasion force, the military establishment in Turkey, the current occupying force, and the average Turk. It is a classic case of condemnation by association. The acts and decisions of a few at some historical (...)
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  22. Ioannis Votsis, The Observation-Ladenness of Theory.
    Discussions of theory-ladenness have traditionally focused on the extent to which observations and observational language are pure, i.e. unaffected by theory, and hence can function as neutral adjudicators in theory testing. By contrast, the purity of theories and of theoretical language is never brought into question. My aim in this paper is to contest this view by arguing that theories and theoretical terms can be afflicted by observation-ladenness.
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  23. Ioannis Votsis, The Pessimistic Meta-Inductivist: A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing?
    Under what circumstances, if any, are we warranted to assert that a theory is true or at least approximately true? Scientific realists answer that such assertions are warranted only for those theories that enjoy explanatory and predictive success. A number of challenges to this answer have emerged, chief among them the argument from pessimistic meta-induction. According to this challenge, the history of science supplies ample evidence against realism in the form of successful theories that are now considered false. The main (...)
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  24. Ioannis Votsis, Survey of Structuralism in the Natural Sciences.
    This chapter traces the development of structural realism within the scientific realism debate and the wider current of structuralism that has swept the philosophy of the natural sciences in the twentieth century.1 The primary aim is to make perspicuous the many manifestations of structural realism and their underlying claims. Among other things, I will compare structural realism’s various manifestations in order to throw more light onto the relations between them. At the end of the chapter, I will identify the main (...)
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  25. Ioannis Votsis, Tracing the Development of Structural Realism.
    This chapter traces the development of structural realism within the scientific realism debate and the wider current of structuralism that has swept the philosophy of the natural sciences in the twentieth century.1 The primary aim is to make perspicuous the many manifestations of structural realism and their underlying claims. Among other things, I will compare structural realism’s various manifestations in order to throw more light onto the relations between them. At the end of the chapter, I will identify the main (...)
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  26. Ioannis Votsis, What's Wrong with the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives?
    Kyle Stanford (2006) argues that the most serious and powerful challenge to scientific realism has been neglected. The problem of unconceived alternatives (PUA), as he calls it, holds that throughout history scientists have failed to conceive alternative theories roughly equally wellconfirmed (by the available evidence) to the theories of the day and, crucially, that such alternatives eventually were conceived and adopted by some section of the scientific community. PUA is a version of the argument from the underdetermination of theories by (...)
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  27. Ioannis Votsis (forthcoming). Perception and Observation Unladened. Philosophical Studies:1-23.
    Let us call ‘veridicalism’ the view that perceptual beliefs and observational reports are largely truthful. This paper aims to make a case for veridicalism by, among other things, examining in detail and ultimately deflating in import what many consider to be the view’s greatest threat, the so-called ‘theory-ladenness’ of perception and/or observation. In what follows, it is argued that to the extent that theoretical factors influence the formation of perceptual beliefs and observational reports, as theory-ladenness demands, that influence is typically (...)
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  28. Ioannis Votsis (forthcoming). Trivial Pursuit: The Case of the Travelling Facts. [REVIEW] Metascience:1-4.
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  29. Ioannis Votsis (2014). Objectivity in Confirmation: Post Hoc Monsters and Novel Predictions. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 45:70-78.
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  30. Ioannis Votsis, Ludwig Fahrbach & Gerhard Schurz (2014). Introduction: Novel Predictions. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 45:43-45.
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  31. Ioannis Votsis (2012). Putting Realism in Perspectivism. Philosophica 84:85-122.
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  32. Ioannis Votsis & Gerhard Schurz (2012). A Frame-Theoretic Analysis of Two Rival Conceptions of Heat. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (1):105-114.
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  33. Roman Frigg & Ioannis Votsis (2011). Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Structural Realism but Were Afraid to Ask. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1 (2):227-276.
    Everything you always wanted to know about structural realism but were afraid to ask Content Type Journal Article Pages 227-276 DOI 10.1007/s13194-011-0025-7 Authors Roman Frigg, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE UK Ioannis Votsis, Philosophisches Institut, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Universitätsstraße 1, Geb. 23.21/04.86, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany Journal European Journal for Philosophy of Science Online ISSN 1879-4920 Print ISSN 1879-4912 Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 2.
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  34. Gerhard Schurz & Ioannis Votsis (2011). Editorial Introduction to Scientific Realism Quo Vadis? Theories, Structures, Underdetermination and Reference. Synthese 180 (2):79 - 85.
  35. Ioannis Votsis (2011). Data Meet Theory: Up Close and Inferentially Personal. Synthese 182 (1):89 - 100.
    In a recent paper James Bogen and James Woodward denounce a set of views on confirmation that they collectively brand 'IRS'. The supporters of these views cast confirmation in terms of Inferential Relations between observational and theoretical Sentences. Against 1RS accounts of confirmation, Bogen and Woodward unveil two main objections: (a) inferential relations are not necessary to model confirmation relations since many data are neither in sentential form nor can they be put in such a form and (b) inferential relations (...)
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  36. Ioannis Votsis (2011). How Not to Be a Realist. In Elaine M. Landry & Dean Rickles (eds.), Structure, Objects and Causality, , Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science, vol. 77. Springer. 59-76.
    When it comes to name-calling, structural realists have heard pretty much all of it. Among the many insults, they have been called ‘empiricist anti-realists’ but also ‘traditional scientific realists’. Obviously the collapse accusations that motivate these two insults cannot both be true at the same time. The aim of this paper is to defend the epistemic variety of structural realism against the accusation of collapse to traditional scientific realism. In so doing, I turn the tables on traditional scientific realists by (...)
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  37. Ioannis Votsis (2011). Structural Realism: Continuity and its Limits. In. In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media. 105--117.
  38. Ioannis Votsis (2011). Saving the Intuitions: Polylithic Reference. Synthese 180 (2):121 - 137.
    My main aim in this paper is to clarify the concepts of referential success and of referential continuity that are so crucial to the scientific realism debate. I start by considering the three dominant theories of reference and the intuitions that motivate each of them. Since several intuitions cited in support of one theory conflict with intuitions cited in support of another something has to give way. The traditional policy has been to reject all intuitions that clash with a chosen (...)
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  39. Ioannis Votsis (2011). The Prospective Stance in Realism. Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1223-1234.
    Scientific realists endeavour to secure inferences from empirical success to approximate truth by arguing that despite the demise of empirically successful theories the parts of those theories responsible for their success do in fact survive theory change. If, as some anti-realists have recently suggested, those parts of theories that are responsible for their success are only identifiable in retrospect, namely as those that have survived, then the realist approach is trivialised for now success and survival are guaranteed to coincide. The (...)
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  40. Ioannis Votsis (2010). Making Contact with Observations. In. In Mauricio Suarez, Mauro Dorato & Miklos Redei (eds.), Epsa Philosophical Issues in the Sciences. Springer. 267--277.
  41. Ioannis Votsis (2009). A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism. [REVIEW] Analysis 69 (2):378-380.
    Conducted almost exclusively at the epistemological level the scientific realism debate often ignores metaphysical niceties. In the face of the scientific realist’s systematic appeal to metaphysical notions like causation and natural kinds the neglect seems dissonant. Chakravartty aspires to overturn it with a bespoke metaphysics for scientific realism. In pursuing this aim, he undrapes a more comprehensive vision of the scientific realist viewpoint, including a distinctive epistemology.
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  42. Ioannis Votsis (2009). Theoretical Frameworks and Empirical Underdetermination. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 40 (1):137 - 140.
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  43. Ioannis Votsis (2008). Y. Ben-Menahem, Conventionalism , Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2006) ISBN 0521826195 X+330pp., US$80.00, Hardback. [REVIEW] Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 39 (1):234-237.
  44. Ioannis Votsis (2007). Review of Kyle Stanford’s Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. [REVIEW] International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):103 – 106.
    In recent years, two challenges stand out against scientific realism: the argument from the underdetermination of theories by evidence (UTE) and the pessimistic induction argument (PI). In his book, Kyle Stanford accepts the gravity of these challenges, but argues that the most serious and powerful challenge to scientific realism has been neglected. The problem of unconceived alternatives (PUA), as he calls it, is introduced in chapter one and refined in chapter two. In short, PUA holds that throughout history scientists have (...)
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  45. Ioannis Votsis (2007). Uninterrupted Equations and the Structure-Nature Distinction. Philosophical Inquiry 29 (1):57-71.
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  46. Ioannis Votsis (2005). The Upward Path to Structural Realism. Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1361-1372.
    In a recent PSA paper (2001a) as well as some other papers ((1995), (2000), (2001b)) and a book chapter (1999, ch. 7), Stathis Psillos raised a number of objections against structural realism. The aim of this paper is threefold: 1) to evaluate part of Psillos’ offence on the Russellian version of epistemic structural realism (ESR for short), 2) to elaborate more fully what Russellian ESR involves, and 3) to suggest improvements where it is indeed failing.
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  47. Ioannis Votsis (2004). The Epistemological Status of Scientific Theories: An Investigation of the Structural Realist Account. Dissertation, London School of Economics
    In this dissertation, I examine a view called ‘Epistemic Structural Realism’, which holds that we can, at best, have knowledge of the structure of the physical world. Put crudely, we can know physical objects only to the extent that they are nodes in a structure. In the spirit of Occam’s razor, I argue that, given certain minimal assumptions, epistemic structural realism provides a viable and reasonable scientific realist position that is less vulnerable to anti-realist arguments than any of its rivals.
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  48. Sandra D. Mitchell, Anjan Chakravartty, Ioannis Votsis, Timothy D. Lyons, Hasok Chang, P. Kyle Stanford, Justin Garson, Uljana Feest, Andrea Scarantino & Xiang Chen (2003). 1. Preface Preface (P. Vii). Philosophy of Science 70 (5).
     
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  49. Ioannis Votsis (2003). Book Review of Ilkka Niiniluoto, Critical Scientific Realism, Oxford: Oxford University Press. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 70 (2):444-447.
    This is certainly true. Simulationists and experimentalists face equally relevant challenges when it comes to establishing that the results of their simulation or experiment are informative about the real world. But it is one thing to point this fact out, and it is another to understand how those challenges are overcome, under differing circumstances, and in varying contexts. It is here that Marcel Boumans’ contribution becomes especially valuable. He presents an example from economics in which a mathematical model performs the (...)
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