About this topic

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 2008 and Massimi 2004.

Introductions For a comprehensive introduction to entity realism and its main problems, see chapter 2 from Chakravartty 2008. See also Hacking 1983, Cartwright 1983 and Massimi 2004.
Related categories

128 found
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  1. added 2018-06-05
    The Debate over Scientific Realism.Chrysovalantis 5. Stergiou - 2013 - In Aristidis Baltas & Kostas Stergiopoulos (eds.), Philosophy and Sciences in Twentieth Century. Crete University Press. pp. 467-498.
  2. added 2018-02-17
    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.
  3. added 2018-02-10
    Philosophers Against “Truth”: The Cases of Harr and Laudan.A. Paya - 1995 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 9 (3):255 – 284.
    The criticisms levelled at the notion of truth by an anti‐realist (Larry Laudan) and an entity‐realist (Rom Harré) are critically examined. The upshot of the discussion will be that whilst neither of the two anti‐truth philosophers have succeeded in establishing their cases against truth, for entity‐realists to reject the notion of truth is to throw out the baby with the bath water: entity‐realism without the notion of correspondence truth will degenerate into anti‐realism.
  4. added 2017-09-14
    Realizm zreformowany. Filozofia Iana Hackinga a spór o status poznawczy wiedzy naukowej.Mateusz Kotowski - 2016 - Wrocław: Oficyna Naukowa PFF.
  5. added 2017-07-04
    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 (...)
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  6. added 2017-06-29
    Constructivism And Realism Versus The Status Of Scientific Facts. Bruno Latour And Ian Hacking.Marek Sikora - 2006 - Studia Philosophica Wratislaviensia 1 (1):11-26.
    The paper addresses one of most important topics in contemporary epistemology, i.e. the controversy between realistic vs. constructivist approach to reality and science. In my article I focus on two representatives of these approaches, on Ian Hacking's realistic view of knowledge, and on Bruno Latour's radical constructivism. In the first part, Latour's idea of anthropological research of the method of sciences is discussed. I argue that Latour's conception boils down to an assertion against there being an universal method of science. (...)
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  7. added 2017-06-29
    Astronomy and Antirealism.Dudley Shapere - 1993 - Philosophy of Science 60 (1):134-150.
    Relying on an analysis of the case of gravitational lensing, Hacking argues for a "modest antirealism" in astronomy. It is shown here that neither his scientific arguments nor his philosophical doctrines imply an antirealist conclusion. An alternative, realistic interpretation of gravitational lensing, and of the nature and history of astronomy more generally, is suggested.
  8. added 2017-06-29
    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 (...)
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  9. added 2017-02-14
    Is the World Really'dappled'? A Response to Cartwright's Charge Against'cross-Wise Reduction'.Ruphy Stephanie - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (1).
  10. added 2017-02-14
    Ian Hacking, The Social Construction of What? Reviewed By.J. J. MacIntosh - 2000 - Philosophy in Review 20 (3):183-186.
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  11. added 2017-02-14
    Abstract Entity.Dale Jacquette - 1995 - In Audi Robert (ed.), The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.
  12. added 2017-02-13
    Representing and Narrativizing Science.Paola Spinozzi - 2011 - In Brian Hurwitz & Paola Spinozzi (eds.), Discourses and Narrations in the Biosciences. V&R Unipress. pp. 8--31.
  13. added 2017-02-13
    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.
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  14. added 2017-02-13
    19 Language, Truth and Reason Ian Hacking.Ian Hacking - 1998 - In Alcoff Linda (ed.), Epistemology: The Big Questions. Blackwell. pp. 322.
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  15. added 2017-02-12
    Huge Prize for Hacking.Brook Lewis - 2011 - The Philosophers' Magazine 48:5.
  16. added 2017-02-09
    Hacking the Brain.Bora Dogan - 2005 - Philosophy Now 52:14-15.
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  17. added 2017-02-08
    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.
  18. added 2017-02-07
    Book Review: Introduction and Reply to - the Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science. [REVIEW]Nancy Cartwright - unknown
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  19. added 2017-02-07
    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.
  20. added 2017-02-07
    On Being and Saying: Essays for Richard Cartwright.Judith Jarvis Thomson (ed.) - 1987 - MIT Press.
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  21. added 2017-02-02
    Science: A 'Dappled World' or a 'Seamless Web'? [REVIEW]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.
  22. added 2017-02-01
    The Dappled World.Ronald N. Giere - 2003 - International Studies in Philosophy 35 (4):189-190.
  23. added 2017-02-01
    Review: The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science. [REVIEW]Storrs Mccall - 2003 - Mind 112 (445):99-106.
  24. added 2017-02-01
    Local Philosophies of Science.Nick Huggett - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (3):137.
    Since the collapse of the 'received view' consensus in the late 1960s, the question of scientific realism has been a major preoccupation of philosophers of science. This paper sketches the history of this debate, which grew from developments in the philosophy of language, but eventually took on an autonomous existence. More recently, the debate has tended towards more 'local' considerations of particular scientific episodes as a way of getting purchase on the issues. The paper reviews two such approaches, Fine's and (...)
  25. added 2017-02-01
    Realism and Complex Entities.George Berger - 1976 - Philosophical Studies 30 (2):95 - 103.
  26. added 2017-01-27
    Representing and Intervening: Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science. [REVIEW]Bento Borges - 1987 - Educacao E Filosofia 2.
  27. added 2017-01-27
    Representing and Intervening.Ian Hacking - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (4):606-611.
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  28. added 2017-01-26
    Experimental Realism Reconsidered: How Inference to the Most Likely Cause Might Be Sound.Mauricio Suárez - 2008 - In Nancy Cartwright, Stephan Hartmann, Carl Hoefer & Luc Bovens (eds.), Nancy Cartwright’s Philosophy of Science. Routledge. pp. 137--63.
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  29. added 2017-01-26
    Review of Nancy Cartwright's The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science. [REVIEW]H. Kincaid - 2003 - Economics and Philosophy 19 (1):167-170.
  30. added 2017-01-26
    CARTWRIGHT, N.-The Dappled World.N. Cartwright, P. Lipton, P. Menzies & La Paul - 2002 - Philosophical Books 43 (4):241-278.
  31. added 2017-01-26
    Nancy Cartwright: The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science.E. Winsberg, M. Frisch, K. M. Darling & A. Fine - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (7):403-408.
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  32. added 2017-01-24
    'I Am a Philosopher of the Particular Case' An Interview with the 2009 Holberg Prizewinner Ian Hacking.Ole Jacob Madsen, Johannes Servan & Simen Andersen Øyen - 2013 - History of the Human Sciences 26 (3):32-51.
    When Ian Hacking won the Holberg International Memorial Prize 2009 his candidature was said to strengthen the legitimacy of the prize after years of controversy. Ole Jacob Madsen, Johannes Servan and Simen Andersen Øyen have talked to Ian Hacking about current questions in the philosophy and history of science.
  33. added 2017-01-24
    On Being and Saying: Essays for Richard Cartwright.James Bogen - 1989 - Philosophical Books 30 (2):92-94.
  34. added 2017-01-24
    Representing and Intervening.Colin Wright - 1985 - Philosophical Books 26 (1):37-39.
  35. added 2017-01-23
    Representing and Intervening.Jean DeGroot - 1986 - Review of Metaphysics 39 (4):766-768.
  36. added 2017-01-22
    Review: Ex-Huming Hacking. [REVIEW]Larry Laudan - 1978 - Erkenntnis 13 (3):417 - 435.
  37. added 2017-01-21
    Hacking’s Historical Epistemology: A Critique of Styles of Reasoning.Martin Kusch - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (2):158-173.
    The paper begins with a detailed reconstruction of the development of Ian Hacking’s theory of scientific ‘styles of reasoning’, paying particular attention to Alistair Crombie’s influence, and suggesting that Hacking’s theory deserves to come under the title ‘historical epistemology’. Subsequently, the paper seeks to establish three critical theses. First, Hacking’s reliance on Crombie leads him to adopt an outdated historiographical position; second, Hacking is unsuccessful in his attempt to distance historical epistemology from epistemic relativism; and third, Hacking has not offered (...)
  38. added 2017-01-21
    On Hacking on Representing and Intervening.James van Evra - 1986 - Dialogue 25 (4):741-.
  39. added 2017-01-21
    Book Review:Representing and Intervening: Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science Ian Hacking. [REVIEW]Jarrett Leplin - 1985 - Philosophy of Science 52 (2):314-.
  40. added 2017-01-19
    Review of Ian Hacking, Historical Ontology[REVIEW]David Hyder - 2003 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2003 (6).
  41. added 2017-01-19
    Nancy Cartwright, the Dappled World. A Study of the Boundaries of Science.Daniela M. Bailer-Jones - 2001 - Erkenntnis 54 (3):412-415.
  42. added 2017-01-19
    The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science by Nancy Cartwright Cambridge University Press, 1999, £35.00, £12.95. [REVIEW]Stephen Mumfordt - 2000 - Philosophy 75 (4):613-626.
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  43. added 2017-01-19
    Nancy Cartwright's New Philosophy of Physics. [REVIEW]Peter Gibbins - 1984 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 35 (4):390-402.
  44. added 2017-01-18
    How Untidy is God's Mind? A Note on the Dynamical Implications of Nancy Cartwright's Metaphysics.Harmke Kamminga & Reza Tavakol - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (3):549-553.
    One of the points of principle made by Cartwright is that the fundamental laws do not describe reality because they are always employed together with ceteris paribus clauses, the implication being that ceteris paribus assumptions always have dire consequences. We here wish to offer a dynamical interpretation of ceteris paribus laws in terms of their stability or fragility. On this interpretation, the consequences of ceteris paribus assumptions become concretely dependent on the nature of the laws under consideration and cannot be (...)
  45. added 2017-01-17
    Nancy Cartwright’s Philosophy of Science. [REVIEW]Sergio F. Martínez - 2011 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 26 (1):90-93.
  46. added 2017-01-16
    Representing and Intervening: Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural ScienceIan Hacking.Peter Galison - 1986 - Isis 77 (1):118-120.
  47. added 2017-01-15
    Roy Bhaskar and Ian Hacking. The Problem of Scientific Realism in the Light of Philosophical Reflection on the Laboratory.Marek Sikora - 2015 - Filozofia Nauki 23 (1):27-38.
  48. added 2017-01-15
    Astronomy and Experimentation.Michelle Sandell - 2010 - Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 14 (3):252-269.
    In this paper I contest Ian Hacking’s claim that astronomers do not experiment. Riding on this thesis is a re-evaluation of his view that astronomers are less justified than other natural scientists in believing in the existence of the objects they study, and that astronomers are not proper natural scientists at all. The defense of my position depends upon carefully examining what, exactly, is being manipulated in an experiment, and the role of experimental effects for Hacking’s experimental realism. I argue (...)
  49. added 2017-01-15
    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 (...)
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  50. added 2017-01-14
    Hartmann, Hoefer & Bovens, Eds. 2008. Nancy Cartwright’s Philosophy of Science.Sergio F. Martínez - unknown
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