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.
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.
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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
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