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Summary

Scientific semi-realism is a form of selective scientific realism that incorporates insights from entity and structural realism. Developed by Anjan Chakravartty, this position defends realism about detection properties of entities and their causal structures, while allowing for non-causal properties to be lost in theory change. Semi-realism builds on insights from entity realism, according to which we have good grounds to believe in the existence of unobservable entities with which we have established causal contact. Unlike entity realism, however, semi-realism does not claim that realism does not entail commitment to the theoretical description of an entity. By distinguishing between detection properties and auxiliary properties, Chakravartty claims that it is through detection properties that we causally detect unobservable entities and thus should be realist about what our theories tell us about these detection properties, while remaining agnostic towards auxiliary properties. Like structural realism, semi-realism holds that it is the mathematical equations – the structural content – of a theory that survives theory change. However, in addition, semi-realism holds that the interpretation of theoretical terms associated detection properties are also preserved. 

Key works

Semi-realism was developed by Anjan Chakravartty [Chakravartty 1998 and Chakravartty 2007]. Objections are developed in French 2013, Ghins 2013 and Psillos 2013. For a response to these objections, see Chakravartty 2013.

Introductions

For an introduction to semi-realism, see chapter 2 of Chakravartty 2007. See also French 2014.

Related categories

17 found
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  1. added 2019-06-06
    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.
  2. added 2018-02-17
    Eclectic Realism—the Proof of the Pudding: A Reply to Busch.Juha Saatsi - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):273-276.
    Eclectic realism is defended against the criticism in Busch by clarifying its terminological and conceptual basis, and by comparing it with structural and semirealism.Keywords: Realism; Pessimistic induction; Augustin Jean Fresnel; Eclectic realism; Semi-realism.
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  3. 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.
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  4. added 2017-02-01
    Chakravartty, A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism.Valeriano Iranzo - 2010 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 25 (1):93-95.
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  5. added 2017-02-01
    The Semantic or Model-Theoretic View of Theories and Scientific Realism.Anjan Chakravartty - 2001 - Synthese 127 (3):325-345.
    The semantic view of theories is one according to which theories are construed as models of their linguistic formulations. The implications of this view for scientific realism have been little discussed. Contrary to the suggestion of various champions of the semantic view, it is argued that this approach does not make support for a plausible scientific realism any less problematic than it might otherwise be. Though a degree of independence of theory from language may ensure safety from pitfalls associated with (...)
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  6. added 2016-09-27
    Review Of: Anjan Chakravartty, A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism. [REVIEW]Matteo Morganti - 2009 - Philosophy in Review 29 (2):86-88.
    A review of Anjan Chakravartty's book putting forward a metaphysical background for scientific realism.
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  7. added 2016-04-04
    Review of Anjan Chakravartty, A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable[REVIEW]James Ladyman - 2009 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (6).
    Review of Anjan Chakravartty: 'A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
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  8. added 2015-05-30
    Semirealism, Concrete Structures and Theory Change.Michel Ghins - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (1):19 - 27.
    After a presentation of some relevant aspects of Chakravartty's semi-realism (A Metaphysics for scientific realism. Knowing the unobservable. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007), this paper addresses two difficulties that appear to be inherent to important components of his proposed metaphysics for scientific realism. First, if particulars and laws are concrete structures, namely actual groupings of causal properties as the semirealist contends, the relation between particulars and laws becomes also a relation between particulars with some annoying consequences. This worry—and some others—are (...)
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  9. added 2015-05-30
    Semirealism or Neo-Aristotelianism?Stathis Psillos - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (1):29 - 38.
    Chakravartty claims that science does not imply any specific metaphysical theory of the world. In this sense, science is consistent with both neo-Aristotelianism and neo-Humeanism. But, along with many others, he thinks that a neo-Aristotelian outlook best suits science. In other words, neo-Aristotelianism is supposed to win on the basis of an inference to the best explanation (IBE). I fail to see how IBE can be used to favour neo-Aristotelianism over neo-Humeanism. In this essay, I aim to do two things. (...)
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  10. added 2015-05-30
    A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism. By Anjan Chakravartty.Bradford McCall - 2011 - Heythrop Journal 52 (2):300-300.
  11. added 2015-05-30
    Discovery, Theory Change and Structural Realism.Daniel James McArthur - 2011 - Synthese 179 (3):361 - 376.
    In this paper I consider two accounts of scientific discovery, Robert Hudson's and Peter Achinstein's. I assess their relative success and I show that while both approaches are similar in promising ways, and address experimental discoveries well, they could address the concerns of the discovery sceptic more explicitly than they do. I also explore the implications of their inability to address purely theoretical discoveries, such as those often made in mathematical physics. I do so by showing that extending Hudson's or (...)
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  12. added 2015-05-30
    A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism. [REVIEW]Ioannis Votsis - 2007 - 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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  13. added 2015-05-30
    Recent Debates Over Structural Realism.Daniel McArthur - 2006 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 37 (2):209 - 224.
    In recent years Structural Realism has been revived as a compromise candidate to resolve the long-standing question of scientific realism. Recent debate over structural realism originates with Worrall's (1989) paper "Structural Realism: The best of Both Worlds". However, critics such as Psillos contend that structural realism incorporates an untenable distinction between structure and nature, and is therefore unworkable. In this paper I consider three versions of structural realism that purport to avoid such criticism. The first is Chakravartty's "semirealism" which proceeds (...)
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  14. added 2015-03-31
    Semi-Realism, Sociability and Structure.Steven French - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (1):1 - 18.
    Semi-realism offers a metaphysics of science based on causal properties. Insofar as these are understood in terms of dispositions for specific relations that comprise the concrete structure of the world it can be regarded as a form of structural realism. And insofar as these properties are 'sociable' and cohere into the groupings that comprise the particulars investigated by science, it captures the underlying intuition behind forms of entity realism. However, I shall raise concerns about both these features. I shall suggest (...)
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  15. added 2015-03-09
    Realism in the Desert and in the Jungle: Reply to French, Ghins, and Psillos. [REVIEW]Anjan Chakravartty - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (1):39 - 58.
    A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable has two primary aims. The first is to extract the most promising refinements of the idea of scientific realism to emerge in recent decades and assemble them into a maximally defensible realist position, semirealism. The second is to demonstrate that, contra antirealist scepticism to the contrary, key concepts typically invoked by realists in expounding their views can be given a coherent and unified explication. These concepts include notions of causation, laws of nature, (...)
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  16. added 2015-03-04
    Singularist Semirealism.Bence Nanay - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (2):371-394.
    This paper proposes to carve out a new position in the scientific realism/antirealism debate and argue that it captures some of the most important realist and some of the most important antirealist considerations. The view, briefly stated, is that there is always a fact of the matter about whether the singular statements science gives us are literally true, but there is no fact of the matter about whether the non-singular statements science gives us are literally true. I call this view (...)
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  17. added 2015-03-04
    Review of A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism. [REVIEW]Valeriano Iranzo - 2010 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 25 (1):93-95.
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