About this topic
Summary

Entity realism is a form of selective scientific realism, claiming that our causal interaction with unobservable entities, such as DNA molecules and atoms, justifies our belief in the existence of unobservable entities. Contrary to standard scientific realism, according to which we should believe in the approximate truth of our most empirically successful theories, entity realism endorses skepticism with respect to the truth of our theories. What warrants our belief in unobservable entities is not the truth of the theories that postulate them but our ability to causally interact with these entities and use them to intervene in other phenomena. 

Key works

Entity realism was developed by Ian Hacking [Hacking 1982 and Hacking 1983] and Nancy Cartwright [Cartwright 1983]. Objections are developed in Morrison 1990, Chakravartty 2007 and Massimi 2004.

Introductions For a comprehensive introduction to entity realism and its main problems, see chapter 2 from Chakravartty 2007. See also Hacking 1983, Cartwright 1983 and Massimi 2004.
Related categories

129 found
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1 — 50 / 129
  1. Is There a Valid Experimental Argument for Scientific Realism?Peter Achinstein - 2002 - Journal of Philosophy 99 (9):470-495.
  2. Science: A 'Dappled World' or a 'Seamless Web'?Philip W. Anderson - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (3):487-494.
  3. Science: A ‘Dappled World’ or a ‘Seamless Web’?Philip W. Anderson - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (3):487-494.
  4. Experimenting on (and with) Hidden Entities: The Inextricability of Representation and Intervention.T. Arabatzis - 2008 - In U. Feest & G. Hon (eds.), Generating Experimental Knowledge. Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. pp. 7--17.
  5. Integrating History and Philosophy of Science.Theodore Arabatzis - 2011 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 263:125-139.
    In this chapter I investigate the prospects of integrated history and philosophy of science, by examining how philosophical issues raised by “hidden entities”, entities that are not accessible to unmediated observation, can enrich the historical investigation of their careers. Conversely, I suggest that the history of those entities has important lessons to teach to the philosophy of science. Hidden entities have played a crucial role in the development of the natural sciences. Despite their centrality to past scientific practice, however, several (...)
  6. Nancy Cartwright, the Dappled World. A Study of the Boundaries of Science.Daniela M. Bailer-Jones - 2001 - Erkenntnis 54 (3):412-415.
  7. Realism and Complex Entities.George Berger - 1976 - Philosophical Studies 30 (2):95 - 103.
  8. On Being and Saying: Essays for Richard Cartwright.James Bogen - 1989 - Philosophical Books 30 (2):92-94.
  9. Representing and Intervening: Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science. [REVIEW]Bento Borges - 1987 - Educacao E Filosofia 2.
  10. Nancy Cartwright’s Philosophy of Science.Luc Bovens, Carl Hoefer & Stephan Hartmann (eds.) - 2010 - Routledge.
    Nancy Cartwright is one of the most distinguished and influential contemporary philosophers of science. Despite the profound impact of her work, there is neither a systematic exposition of Cartwright’s philosophy of science nor a collection of articles that contains in-depth discussions of the major themes of her philosophy. This book is devoted to a critical assessment of Cartwright’s philosophy of science and contains contributions from Cartwright's champions and critics. Broken into three parts, the book begins by addressing Cartwright's views on (...)
  11. Nancy Cartwright’s Philosophy of Science.Luc Bovens, Carl Hoefer & Stephan Hartmann (eds.) - 2008 - Routledge.
    Nancy Cartwright is one of the most distinguished and influential contemporary philosophers of science. Despite the profound impact of her work, there is neither a systematic exposition of Cartwright’s philosophy of science nor a collection of articles that contains in-depth discussions of the major themes of her philosophy. This book is devoted to a critical assessment of Cartwright’s philosophy of science and contains contributions from Cartwright's champions and critics. Broken into three parts, the book begins by addressing Cartwright's views on (...)
  12. Polywater and Experimental Realism.J. Brakevanl - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (4):775-784.
  13. Wissenschaft und Realität. Versuch eines pragmatischen Empirismus.Karim Bschir - 2012 - Mohr Siebeck.
    Versuch eines pragmatischen Empirismus Karim Bschir. vom Rationalismus abzugrenzen, welcher neben der Erfahrung auch die reine Verstandestätigkeit als Erkenntnisquelle zulässt. Auf der anderen Seite benutzt man „Empirismus“ bzw.
  14. Entity Realism Meets the Pessimistic Meta-Induction – The World is Not Enough.Jacob Busch - 2006 - SATS: Northern European Journal of Philosophy 7 (106):26.
    In the following I briefly set out Devitt's (1997) definition of entity realism and compare it to Hacking's (1983) definition. I then set out the pessimistic induction argument as suggested by Putnam (1978). I present an argument developed by Bertolet (1988) to the effect that Devitt's abductive defence of realism fails. In the light of its failure, Devitt offers the ability of his definition of scientific realism to solve the pessimistic induction argument as a tactical advantage for his definition. I (...)
  15. Cartwright's Models Are Not Adequate for EPR.Jacek Cachro & Tomasz Placek - 2003 - In A. Rojszczak, J. Cachro & G. Kurczewski (eds.), Philosophical Dimensions of Logic and Science. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 213--231.
    We assess Cartwright's models for probabilistic causality, and in particular, her models for EPR-like experiments of quantum mechanics. We show that her models for the EPR are mathematically incorrect and physically implausible. Finally, we argue that her models are not adequate for EPR-phenomena, since they ignore modal and spatiotemporal aspects inherent in their setup.
  16. An Interview with Nancy Cartwright.N. Cartwright - 1995 - Cogito 9 (3):203-215.
  17. CARTWRIGHT, N.-The Dappled World.N. Cartwright, P. Lipton, P. Menzies & La Paul - 2002 - Philosophical Books 43 (4):241-278.
  18. Book Review: Introduction and Reply to - the Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science. [REVIEW]Nancy Cartwright - unknown
  19. A Case Study in Realism: Why Econometrics is Committed to Capacities.Nancy Cartwright - 1988 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:190 - 197.
    It is common, following Quine, to look to what theories say to determine the ontological commitments of a scientific discipline. But methods and practices are equally telling. This paper considers early doctrines in econometrics. It argues that what is directly confirmed in tests of the theory will not support the applications to which the theory is to be put unless we can assume a kind of stability and atomism characteristic of capacities. The leap from confirmation to application will only be (...)
  20. Science and the Systematicity of Nature: A Critique of Nancy Cartwright's Doctrine of Nature and Natural Science.Philip Ellery Catton - 1991 - Dissertation, The University of Western Ontario (Canada)
    Whether nature is or is not systematic sounds at first like an idle metaphysical question, but considered in relation to the aims of science and the methods of appraisal of scientific theories, it can be given clear content. It is also necessary to ask the question in order to study the relation of causation, laws of nature, and theoretical structure. ; Aims. The doctrines that science aims to provide explanations, that science achieves success in this aim, that explanation involves unification, (...)
  21. Nancy Cartwright.How to Tell A. Common Cause & Fork Criterion - 1988 - In J. Fetzer (ed.), Probability and Causality. D. Reidel. pp. 181.
  22. Semirealism.Anjan Chakravartty - 1998 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 29 (3):391-408.
    The intuition of the naı¨ve realist, miracle arguments notwithstanding, is countered forcefully by a host of considerations, including the possibility of underdetermination, and criticisms of abductive inferences to explanatory hypotheses. Some have suggested that an induction may be performed, from the perspective of present theories, on their predecessors. Past theories are thought to be false, strictly speaking; it is thus likely that present-day theories are also false, and will be taken as such at an appropriate future time.
  23. Reconsidering Experimental Realism.Ruey-Lin Chen - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 43:33-41.
    This paper discusses Hacking’s experimental realism and suggests a concept of realization to the issue about realism. I first rephrase Hacking’s experimental realism by reconstructing them into two theses and three arguments. Then I consider that Resnik’s objection to Hacking’s experimental realism. According to my understanding of Hacking’s experimental realism, Resnik’s objection failed because of his position at theory realism. Nevertheless, I think that there are still two problems about the experimental aspect of the experimental realism. They are the pessimistic (...)
  24. Transcendental Realisms in the Philosophy of Science: On Bhaskar and Cartwright.Stephen Clarke - 2010 - Synthese 173 (3):299-315.
    I consider two transcendental arguments for realism in the philosophy of science, which are due to Roy Bhaskar (A realist theory of science, 1975) and Nancy Cartwright (The dappled world, 1999). Bhaskar and Cartwright are both influential figures, however there is little discussion of their use of transcendental arguments in the literature. Here I seek to correct this oversight. I begin by describing the role of the transcendental arguments in question, in the context of the broader philosophical theories in which (...)
  25. Defensible Territory for Entity Realism.Steve Clarke - 2001 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (4):701-722.
    In the face of argument to the contrary, it is shown that there is defensible middle ground available for entity realism, between the extremes of scientific realism and empiricist antirealism. Cartwright's ([1983]) earlier argument for defensible middle ground between these extremes, which depended crucially on the viability of an underdeveloped distinction between inference to the best explanation (IBE) and inference to the most probable cause (IPC), is examined and its defects are identified. The relationship between IBE and IPC is clarified (...)
  26. Causal Explanation and Ontological Commitment.Mark Colyvan - 1999 - In Uwe Meixner Peter Simons (ed.), Metaphysics in the Post-Metaphysical Age. Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society. pp. 1--141.
  27. Scientific Mythbusting.Robert P. Crease - 2013 - Metascience 22 (2):509-511.
  28. Nancy Cartwright, Millian and/or Aristotelian.R. Crespo - forthcoming - Sapientia.
  29. Models, High-Energy Theoretical Physics and Realism.James T. Cushing - 1982 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:31 - 56.
    Examples of theory development in quantum field theory and in S-matrix theory are related to three questions of interest to the philosophy of science. The first is the central role of highly abstract, mathematical models in the creation of theories. Second, the process of creation and justification actually used make it plausible that a successful theory is equally well characterized as being stable against attack rather than as being objectively correct. Lastly, the issue of the reality of theoretical entities is (...)
  30. The Sad but True Story of Entity Realism.Herman de Regt - 1994 - In A. A. Derksen (ed.), The Scientific Realism of Rom Harré. Tilburg University Press.
  31. Representing and Intervening.Jean DeGroot - 1986 - Review of Metaphysics 39 (4):766-768.
  32. Hacking the Brain.Bora Dogan - 2005 - Philosophy Now 52:14-15.
  33. Holism and Structuralism in Classical and Quantum General Relativity.Mauro Dorato & Massimo Pauri - 2006 - In Dean Rickles, Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.), The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 121-151.
    The main aim of our paper is to show that interpretative issues belonging to classical General Relativity (GR) might be preliminary to a deeper understanding of conceptual problems stemming from on-going attempts at constructing a quantum theory of gravity. Among such interpretative issues, we focus on the meaning of general covariance and the related question of the identity of points, by basing our investigation on the Hamiltonian formulation of GR. In particular, we argue that the adoption of a peculiar gauge-fixing (...)
  34. Prospects for Scientific Realism.Juli Kathryn Thorson Eflin - 1990 - Dissertation, University of Washington
    I begin the account of scientific realism with the intuition that we explain the behavior of an object by saying what it is and that if we can say what an object is we have an explanation of its behavior. The question the scientific realist needs to answer is whether the intuition is limited to cases in which an explanation is given in macroscopic terms or whether it can be justifiably extended to theoretical explanations. To justify extending the intuition to (...)
  35. 2 Entity Realism.Matthias Egg - 2014 - In Scientific Realism in Particle Physics: A Causal Approach. De Gruyter. pp. 19-32.
  36. Could Theoretical Entities Save Realism?Mohamed Elsamahi - 1994 - In David & Richard Hull & Burian (ed.), PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association. pp. 173 - 180.
    Hacking and other entity realists suggest a strategy to build scientific realism on a stronger foundation than inference to the best explanation. They argue that if beliefs in the existence of theoretical entities are derived from experimentation rather than theories, they can escape the antirealist's criticism and provide a stronger ground for realism. In this paper, an outline and a critique of entity realism are presented. It will be argued that entity realism cannot stand as a separate position from classical (...)
  37. Review of Stephan Hartmann, Carl Hoefer, Luc Bovens (Eds.), Nancy Cartwright's Philosophy of Science[REVIEW]Mathias Frisch - 2009 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (3).
  38. Representing and Intervening: Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural ScienceIan Hacking.Peter Galison - 1986 - Isis 77 (1):118-120.
  39. Representing and Intervening: Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science Ian Hacking Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. 287 P. [REVIEW]Yvon Gauthier - 1985 - Dialogue 24 (1):162-.
    This is a lively and clearly written introduction to the philosophy of natural science, organized around the central theme of scientific realism. It has two parts. 'Representing' deals with the different philosophical accounts of scientific objectivity and the reality of scientific entities. The views of Kuhn, Feyerabend, Lakatos, Putnam, van Fraassen, and others, are all considered. 'Intervening' presents the first sustained treatment of experimental science for many years and uses it to give a new direction to debates about realism. Hacking (...)
  40. Manipulative Success and the Unreal.Axel Gelfert - 2003 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (3):245-263.
    In its original form due to Ian Hacking, entity realism postulates a criterion of manipulative success which replaces explanatory virtue as the criterion of justified scientific belief. The article analyses the foundations on which this postulate rests and identifies the conditions on which one can derive a form of entity realism from it. It then develops in detail an extensive class of counterexamples, drawing on the notion of quasi-particles in condensed matter physics. While the phenomena associated with quasi-particles pass the (...)
  41. Nancy Cartwright's New Philosophy of Physics. [REVIEW]Peter Gibbins - 1984 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 35 (4):390-402.
  42. The Dappled World.Ronald N. Giere - 2003 - International Studies in Philosophy 35 (4):189-190.
  43. Book Review:The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science Nancy Cartwright. [REVIEW]Ronald N. Giere - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (3):527-.
  44. Reinventing Certainty: The Significance of Ian Hacking's Realism.Alan G. Gross - 1990 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:421 - 431.
    This paper examines Ian Hacking's arguments in favor of entity realism. It shows that his examples from science do not support his realism. Furthermore, his proposed criterion of experimental use is neither sufficient nor necessary for conferring a privileged status on his preferred unobservables. Nonetheless his insight is genuine; it may be most profitably seen as part of a more general effort to create a space for a new form of scientific and philosophical certainty, one that does not require foundations.
  45. 19 Language, Truth and Reason Ian Hacking.Ian Hacking - 1998 - In Alcoff Linda (ed.), Epistemology: The Big Questions. Blackwell. pp. 322.
  46. Scientific Realism About Some Chemical Entities.Ian Hacking - 1995 - Foundations of Science 1 (4):537-542.
  47. Extragalactic Reality: The Case of Gravitational Lensing.Ian Hacking - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (4):555-581.
    My Representing and Intervening (1983) concludes with what it calls an experimental argument for scientific realism about entities. The argument is evidently inapplicable to extragalactic astrophysics, but leaves open the possibility that there might be other grounds for scientific realism in that domain. Here I argue for antirealism in astrophysics, although not for any particular kind of antirealism. The argument is conducted by a detailed examination of some current research. It parallels the last chapter of (1983). Both represent the methodological (...)
  48. Representing and Intervening.Ian Hacking - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (4):606-611.
  49. Representing and Intervening: Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science.Ian Hacking - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.
    This 1983 book is a lively and clearly written introduction to the philosophy of natural science, organized around the central theme of scientific realism. It has two parts. 'Representing' deals with the different philosophical accounts of scientific objectivity and the reality of scientific entities. The views of Kuhn, Feyerabend, Lakatos, Putnam, van Fraassen, and others, are all considered. 'Intervening' presents the first sustained treatment of experimental science for many years and uses it to give a new direction to debates about (...)
  50. Experimentation and Scientific Realism.Ian Hacking - 1982 - Philosophical Topics 13 (1):71-87.
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