Abstract We motivate and develop an A-theory of time and probe its implied interpretation of quantum mechanics. It will emerge that, as a first take, the time of relativity is a B-series and the time of quantum mechanics is an A-series. There is philosophical motivation for the idea that mutual quantum measurement happens when and only when the systems’ A-series become one mutual A-series. This accounts almost trivially for many quantum phenomena, including that the electrons of a Bell pair do (...) not have definite spins ‘until’ measurement, as ‘until’ here is an A-series notion. This version of the paper is in the process of being re-formatted for submission to a journal. (shrink)
This book investigates the interplay between two new and influential subdisciplines in the philosophy of science and philosophy: contemporary scientific metaphysics and the philosophy of information. Scientific metaphysics embodies various scientific realisms and has a partial intellectual heritage in some forms of neo-positivism, but is far more attuned than the latter to statistical science, theory defeasibility, scale variability, and pluralist ontological and explanatory commitments, and is averse to a-priori conceptual analysis. The philosophy of information is the combination of what has (...) been called the informational turn in philosophy and ontology, with the informational turn in logic. The book explores the intersecting theoretical commitments and metaphysical basis of both. It applies scientific metaphysics to the philosophy of information, and also correspondingly proposes a new informational interpretation of scientific metaphysics. These are applied to numerous outstanding ontological, philosophical, and theoretical problems in the philosophy of information, scientific realism, cognitive science, theories of semantic information, and informational logic. The book investigates known and new problems, and advances debates and insights in the philosophy of information. It will be of interest to philosophers of information and science, metaphysicians, and cognitive scientists. (shrink)
Scientists represent their world, grouping and organizing phenomena into classes by means of concepts. Philosophers of science have historically been interested in the nature of these concepts, the criteria that inform their application and the nature of the kinds that the concepts individuate. They also have sought to understand whether and how different systems of classification are related and more recently, how investigative practices shape conceptual development and change. Our aim in this paper is to provide a critical overview of (...) some of the key developments in this philosophical literature and identify some interesting issues it raises about the prospects of the so-called “special sciences”, including psychiatry, psychology, and the mind-brain sciences more generally, to discover natural kinds. (shrink)
There’s a recurrent divide among philosophical views about science—those focused on practice vs. those focused on metaphysics, assertions of pluralism vs. assertions of realism, accounts of how science’s history could have gone otherwise vs. accounts of how science achieves knowledge. Michela Massimi’s Perspectival Realism is ultimately a bridging project, aiming to cross this divide. The project is to recruit resources from perspectivism, a kind of pluralism about science, to show how science achieves knowledge and, thus, to inform a scientific realism (...) compatible with this pluralism. (shrink)
This paper presents and critically discusses the “logos approach to quantum mechanics” from the point of view of the current debates concerning the relation between metaphysics and science. Due to its alleged direct connection with quantum formalism, the logos approach presents itself as a better alternative for understanding quantum mechanics than other available views. However, we present metaphysical and methodological difficulties that seem to clearly point to a different conclusion: the logos approach is on an epistemic equal footing among alternative (...) realist approaches to quantum mechanics. (shrink)
‘Shallow’ and ‘deep’ versions of scientific realism may be distinguished as follows: the shallow realist is satisfied with belief in the existence of the posits of our best scientific theories; by contrast, deep realists claim that realism can be legitimate only if such entities are described in metaphysical terms. We argue that this methodological discussion can be fruitfully applied in Everettian quantum mechanics, specifically on the debate concerning the existence of worlds and the recent dispute between Everettian actualism and quantum (...) modal realism. After presenting what is involved in such dispute, we point to a dilemma for realists: either we don’t have the available metaphysical tools to answer the deep realist’s demands, and realism is not justified in this case, or such demands of metaphysical dressing are not mandatory for scientific realism, and deep versions of realism are not really required. (shrink)
Carnap's conception of linguistic frameworks is widespread; however, it is not entirely clear nor consensual to pinpoint what is the influence of his stance within the traditional realist/anti-realist debate. In this paper, we place Carnap as a proponent of a scientific realist stance, by presenting what he called “linguistic realism”. Some possible criticisms are considered, and a case study is offered with wave function realism, a popular position in the philosophy of quantum mechanics.
For many decades, Duhem has been considered a paradigmatic instrumentalist, and while some commentators have argued against classifying him in this way, it still seems prevalent as an interpretation of his philosophy of science. Yet such a construal bears scant resemblance to the views presented in his own works—so little, indeed, that it might be said to constitute no more than a mere phantom with respect to his actual thought. In this article, we aim to deconstruct this phantom, tracing the (...) sources of the misconceptions surrounding his ideas and pinpointing the sources and/or causes of its proliferation. We subsequently point out and discuss those elements of his philosophy that, taken together, support the view of him as a scientific realist of a sophisticated kind. Finally, we defend our own interpretation of his thought against suggestions to the effect that it is oriented towards neither instrumentalism nor scientific realism. (shrink)
In this paper, we try to understand how Bunge’s scientific hylorealism can fit with several crystal chemistry’s objects and their properties. It is found that many of them, lying at the very core of this discipline, bring support to ontologi-cal emergentism. Building units, such as vacancies, their chemical potential, the crystal quantum number and many aspects of the spectroscopic properties of 4f electrons in ionic crystals, are presented as striking examples of emergent (or submergent) objects or properties encountered in the (...) single crystalline state. Among all the types of building. (shrink)
The Austrian School seems to remain outside the debate on the realism of economic models. In principle, given the association of the term “model” with the Chicago School, and also for understanding that Hayek had critized the model of perfect competition as unrealistic. Even though in previous opportunities we showed how the theory of market as a process could be understood as the model of the Austrian School, and that Hayek’s criticism to the model of perfect competition was not so (...) much of unrealistic, but that it was wrongly stated (Zanotti & Borella, 2015), and we developed the ontological foundation of the model in Hayek’s thought (Borella, 2019), in this paper we will show how it is posible to compare pattern predictions with models, and how in this sense, the Austrian School, also seems to get near, even without sufficiently noticing it, to the discussion on models in economics and their realism. Keywords: Realism of models- Hayek- pattern predictions-models . (shrink)
Some naturalistic philosophers of mind subscribing to the predictive processing theory of mind have adopted a realist attitude towards the results of Bayesian cognitive science. In this paper, we argue that this realist attitude is unwarranted. The Bayesian research program in cognitive science does not possess special epistemic virtues over alternative approaches for explaining mental phenomena involving uncertainty. In particular, the Bayesian approach is not simpler, more unifying, or more rational than alternatives. It is also contentious that the Bayesian approach (...) is overall better supported by the empirical evidence. So, to develop philosophical theories of mind on the basis of a realist interpretation of results from Bayesian cognitive science is unwarranted. Naturalistic philosophers of mind should instead adopt an anti-realist attitude towards these results and remain agnostic as to whether Bayesian models are true. For continuing on with an exclusive focus and praise of Bayes within debates about the predictive processing theory will impede progress in philosophical understanding of scientific practice in computational cognitive science as well as of the architecture of the mind. (shrink)
I’m grateful to Aleta Quinn and Studies in History and Philosophy of Science for hosting this book forum for my book, The Relativity of Theory (Springer, 2020). I’m also grateful to Margaret Greta Turnbull and Joseph Martin for their commentaries. In what follows, I address their comments as I understand them.
In this paper, I reply to Seungbae Park’s (2021) reply to my (Mizrahi 2021) reply to his (Park 2020) critique of the view I defend in Chapter 6 of The Relativity of Theory: Key Positions and Arguments in the Contemporary Scientific Realism/Antirealism Debate (Cham: Springer, 2020), namely, Relative Realism. Relative Realism is the view that, of a set of competing scientific theories, the more successful theory is comparatively true. Comparative truth is a relation between competing theories. So, to say that (...) T1 is comparatively true is to say that T1 is closer to the truth than its competitors, T2, T3, …, Tn. In his latest reply, Park (2021) clarifies his notions of “T-space” and “F-space,” which he now labels “T-space” and “O-space,” and further develops what he calls the “Argument from Double Spaces,” which is supposed to show that, contrary to what the relative realist argues, relative judgments about the comparative truth of competing theories are not rationally justified. I argue that Park’s revised version of the “Argument from Double Spaces” still fails as an argument against Relative Realism. (shrink)
In this paper, I reply to Seungbae Park’s (2020) critique of the view I defend in Chapter 6 of The Relativity of Theory: Key Positions and Arguments in the Contemporary Scientific Realism/Antirealism Debate (Cham: Springer, 2020), namely, Relative Realism. Relative Realism is the view that, of a set of competing scientific theories, the more predictively successful theory is comparatively true. Comparative truth is a relation between competing theories. So, to say that T1 is comparatively true is to say that T1 (...) is closer to the truth than its competitors, T2, T3, ..., Tn. Park offers two arguments against Relative Realism. The first is an argument by analogy to NBA players, which is supposed to show that, contrary to what the relative realist argues, absolute judgments about the (approximate) truth and (predictive) success of competing theories are rationally justified. The second is what Park calls “The Argument from Double Spaces,” which is supposed to show that, contrary to what the relative realist argues, relative judgments about the (comparative) truth of competing theories are not rationally justified. I argue that Park’s arguments fail to do what he wants them to do. (shrink)
Many philosophers are baffled by necessity. Humeans, in particular, are deeply disturbed by the idea of necessary laws of nature. In this paper I offer a systematic yet down to earth explanation of necessity and laws in terms of invariance. The type of invariance I employ for this purpose generalizes an invariance used in meta-logic. The main idea is that properties and relations in general have certain degrees of invariance, and some properties/relations have a stronger degree of invariance than others. (...) The degrees of invariance of highly-invariant properties are associated with high degrees of necessity of laws governing/describing these properties, and this explains the necessity of such laws both in logic and in science. This non-mysterious explanation has rich ramifications for both fields, including the formality of logic and mathematics, the apparent conflict between the contingency of science and the necessity of its laws, the difference between logical-mathematical, physical, and biological laws/principles, the abstract character of laws, the applicability of logic and mathematics to science, scientific realism, and logical-mathematical realism. (shrink)
The paper investigates the type of realism that best suits the framework of decoherence taken at face value without postulating a plurality of worlds, or additional hidden variables, or non-unitary dynamical mechanisms. It is argued that this reading of decoherence leads to an extremely radical type of perspectival realism, especially when cosmological decoherence is considered.
This article combines an appreciation of several themes in Josh Reeves's Against Methodology in Science and Religion: Recent Debates on Rationality and Theology while arguing in favor of critical realism. The author holds that critical realism manages to combine the objective truth reached through inference and especially cognitive acts of judgment as well as the various, contingent historical contexts that also define where science is practiced. Reeves advocates a historical perspective, but this article claims that in order for critical realism (...) to be credible, a philosophical perspective must be maintained. (shrink)
In this thought-provoking book, Richard Healey proposes a new interpretation of quantum theory inspired by pragmatist philosophy. Healey puts forward the interpretation as an alternative to realist quantum theories on the one hand such as Bohmian mechanics, spontaneous collapse theories, and many-worlds interpretations, which are different proposals for describing what the quantum world is like and what the basic laws of physics are, and non-realist interpretations on the other hand such as quantum Bayesianism, which proposes to understand quantum theory as (...) describing agents' subjective epistemic states. The central idea of Healey's proposal is to understand quantum theory as providing not a description of the physical world but a set of authoritative and objectively correct prescriptions about how agents should act. The book provides a detailed development and defense of that idea, and it contains interesting discussions about a wide range of philosophical issues such as representation, probability, explanation, causation, objectivity, meaning, and fundamentality. Healey's project is at the intersection of physics and philosophy. The book is divided into two parts. Part I of the book discusses the foundational questions in quantum theory from the perspective of the prescriptive interpretation. In Part II, Healey discusses the philosophical implications of the view. Both parts are written in a way that is largely accessible to non-specialists. In this brief book review, I will focus on two questions: (1) How does Healey's idea work? (2) What reasons are there to believe in it? (shrink)
Algunos defensores del realismo científico, particularmente Ilkka Niiniluoto y Philip Kitcher, han intentado moderar las tesis ontológicas más fuertes del realismo buscando la integración de la teoría de la verdad como correspondencia con alguna versión matizada del relativismo conceptual propugnado por Putnam, según el cual el mundo carece de una estructura propia y, por tanto, la ontología depende de nuestros esquemas conceptuales. No es claro, sin embargo, que ambas cosas se puedan armonizar fácilmente. Si nuestro conocimiento del mundo está mediado (...) por nuestras categorías y conceptos, y si además la elección de esas categorías y conceptos puede variar en función de nuestros intereses y no obedecen a la existencia de unos supuestos géneros naturales o a una estructura propia del mundo, se torna entonces problemático establecer a qué corresponden nuestros enunciados verdaderos. ¿Corresponden al mundo independiente de nuestra mente o al mundo estructurado por nosotros mediante nuestras categorías y conceptos? En este artículo se presentarán las principales dificultades que encuentra este proyecto de realismo moderado tanto en Niiniluoto como en Kitcher, se analizarán sus propuestas para solventar dichas dificultades, mostrando sus insuficiencias y, finalmente, se propondrá una modalidad de realismo ontológico moderado que, recogiendo algo del espíritu de la relatividad conceptual de Putnam, es lo suficientemente fuerte como para sustentar una teoría de la verdad como correspondencia. Replucación autorizada. Publicado por primera vez en Contrastes vol. XII. (shrink)
The main claim of this study is that, contrary to Latour’s view about the need to leave aside epistemology to deal with anything valuable about science, Mario Bunge has consistently built up a detailed and thorough epistemology. The argumentative strategy will be to show that (a) it is not true that we have never been modern (b) epistemology is here to stay, and (c) Mario Bunge endorses a strong scientific realism, a brand of materialism, systemism and emergentism, including a moral (...) dimension (there are objective values like, truth, peace and justice that deserve to be respected). Then, Bunge’s realism rejects axiological neutrality making scientists responsible for their actions. Bunge has always been modern and keeps enriching his own views. (shrink)
Cette étude défend l’idée que, contrairement à l’opinion de Latour sur la nécessité de laisser de côté l’épistémologie pour traiter de tout ce qui a de la valeur pour la science, Mario Bunge a systématiquement construit une épistémologie détaillée et approfondie. La stratégie argumentative consistera à montrer (a) qu’il est faux que nous n’avons jamais été modernes (b) que l’épistémologie est là pour de bon et (c) que Mario Bunge soutient un réalisme scientifique fort, une version du matérialisme, du systémisme (...) et de l’émergentisme, comportant une dimension morale (il existe des valeurs objectives comme la vérité, la paix et la justice qui méritent d’être étudiées). Ensuite, le réalisme de Bunge rejette la neutralité axiologique rendant les scientifiques responsables de leurs actions. Bunge a toujours été moderne et continue à enrichir ses propres positions. (shrink)
This book offers a close and rigorous examination of the arguments for and against scientific realism and introduces key positions in the scientific realism/antirealism debate, which is one of the central debates in contemporary philosophy of science. On the one hand, scientific realists argue that we have good reasons to believe that our best scientific theories are approximately true because, if they were not even approximately true, they would not be able to explain and predict natural phenomena with such impressive (...) accuracy. On the other hand, antirealists argue that the success of science does not warrant belief in the approximate truth of our best scientific theories. This is because the history of science is a graveyard of theories that were once successful but were later discarded. The author eventually settles on a middle ground position between scientific realism and antirealism called "relative realism.". (shrink)
Any computer can create a model of reality. The hypothesis that quantum computer can generate such a model designated as quantum, which coincides with the modeled reality, is discussed. Its reasons are the theorems about the absence of “hidden variables” in quantum mechanics. The quantum modeling requires the axiom of choice. The following conclusions are deduced from the hypothesis. A quantum model unlike a classical model can coincide with reality. Reality can be interpreted as a quantum computer. The physical processes (...) represent computations of the quantum computer. Quantum information is the real fundament of the world. The conception of quantum computer unifies physics and mathematics and thus the material and the ideal world. Quantum computer is a non-Turing machine in principle. Any quantum computing can be interpreted as an infinite classical computational process of a Turing machine. Quantum computer introduces the notion of “actually infinite computational process”. The discussed hypothesis is consistent with all quantum mechanics. The conclusions address a form of neo-Pythagoreanism: Unifying the mathematical and physical, quantum computer is situated in an intermediate domain of their mutual transformation. (shrink)
Williams and J. Fraser have recently argued that effective field theory methods enable scientific realists to make more reliable ontological commitments in quantum field theory than those commonly made. In this paper, I show that the interpretative relevance of these methods extends beyond the specific context of QFT by identifying common structural features shared by effective theories across physics. In particular, I argue that effective theories are best characterized by the fact that they contain intrinsic empirical limitations, and I extract (...) from their structure one central interpretative constraint for making more reliable ontological commitments in different subfields of physics. While this is in principle good news, this constraint still raises a challenge for scientific realists in some contexts, and I bring the point home by focusing on Williams’s and J. Fraser’s defense of selective realism in QFT. (shrink)
Perspectival realism combines two apparently contradictory aspects: the epistemic relativity of perspectives and the mind-independence of realism. This paper examines the prospects for a coherent perspectival realism, taking the literature on scientific representation as a starting point. It is argued that representation involves two types of norms, referred to as norms of relevance and norms of accuracy. Norms of relevance fix the domain of application of a theory and the way it categorises the world, and norms of accuracy give the (...) conditions for the theory to be true. Perspectival realism could be made coherent by taking a realist stance towards one type of norm, and a perspectival stance towards the other, by assuming they are relative to a community. This provides two versions of perspectival realism, called relevance perspectivism and accuracy perspectivism. How each option fares with respect to the challenge of incompatible models is examined. Finally, the prospects of full perspectivism are evaluated. (shrink)
Scientific realism and anti-realism are most frequently discussed as global theses: theses that apply equally well across the board to all the various sciences. Against this status quo I defend the localist alternative, a methodological stance on scientific realism that approaches debates on realism at the level of individual sciences, rather than at science itself. After identifying the localist view, I provide a number of arguments in its defense, drawing on the diversity and disunity found in the sciences, as well (...) as problems with other approaches (such as basing realism debates on the aim of science). I also show how the view is already at work, explicitly or implicitly, in the work of several philosophers of science. After meeting the objections that localism collapses either into globalism or hyperlocalism, I conclude by sketching what sorts of impacts localism can have in the philosophy of science. (shrink)
In a recent paper in this journal, entitled ‘Scientific Progress: Why Getting Closer to Truth is Not Enough’ (2017), Moti Mizrahi argues that the view of progress as approximation to the truth or increasing verisimilitude is plainly false. The key premise of his argument is that on such a view of progress, in order to get closer to the truth one only needs to arbitrarily add a true disjunct to a hypothesis or theory. Since quite clearly scientific progress is not (...) a matter of adding true disjuncts to theories, the argument goes, the view of progress as approximation to the truth is untenable. We show that the key premise of Mizrahi’s argument is false: according to verisimilitude-based accounts of progress, adding arbitrary true disjuncts to existing theories is just not enough to get closer to the truth. (shrink)
A century after the discovery of quantum mechanics, the meaning of quantum mechanics still remains elusive. This is largely due to the puzzling nature of the wave function, the central object in quantum mechanics. If we are realists about quantum mechanics, how should we understand the wave function? What does it represent? What is its physical meaning? Answering these questions would improve our understanding of what it means to be a realist about quantum mechanics. In this survey article, I review (...) and compare several realist interpretations of the wave function. They fall into three categories: ontological interpretations, nomological interpretations, and the sui generis interpretation. For simplicity, I will focus on non-relativistic quantum mechanics. (shrink)
Recently Kenneth Kendler and Peter Zachar have raised doubts about the correspondence theory of truth and scientific realism in psychopathology. They argue that coherentist or pragmatist approaches to truth are better suited for understanding the reality of psychiatric disorders. In this article, I show that rejecting realism based on the correspondence theory is deeply problematic: It makes psychopathology categorically different from other sciences, and results in an implausible view of scientific discovery and progress. As an alternative, I suggest a robustness-based (...) approach that can accommodate the significance of coherence and pragmatic factors without rejecting scientific realism and the correspondence theory of truth. (shrink)
Yleensä Wienin piirin loogista empirismiä kannattaneet filosofit mielletään antirealisteiksi. Tässä artikkelissa kuitenkin argumentoidaan, että piirin johtohahmo Moritz Schlick oli eräänlainen realisti myös nykystandardien valossa. Näin ollen – niin yllättävältä kuin se kuulostaakin – positivismi ja realismi ovat yhteensovitettavissa. Schlick tosin erotti kannattamansa empiirisen realismin jyrkästi metafyysisestä realismista, jota hän piti merkityksettömänä. Schlickin realismin esittelyn lisäksi artikkelissa tarkastellaan yleisellä tasolla hänen epistemologiaansa, kielifilosofiaansa ja metafysiikan kritiikkiään. Tekstissä pohditaan myös Schlickin suosiman realismin asemaa ja relevanssia nykyisessä realismikeskustelussa.
Localism is the view that the unit of evaluation in the scientific realism debate is a single scientific discipline, sub-discipline, or claim, whereas individualism is the view that the unit of evaluation is a single scientific theory. Localism is compatible, while individualism is not, with a local pessimistic induction and a local selective induction. Asay (2016) presents several arguments to support localism and undercut globalism, according to which the unit of evaluation is the set of all scientific disciplines. I argue (...) that some of his arguments clash with localism as well as with globalism and support individualism, and that individualism goes hand in hand, while localism does not, with the basic rule of how to evaluate an argument. (shrink)
Indispensablists contend that accepting scientific realism while rejecting mathematical realism involves a double standard. I refute this contention by developing an enhanced version of scientific realism, which I call interactive realism. It holds that interactively successful theories are typically approximately true, and that the interactive unobservable entities posited by them are likely to exist. It is immune to the pessimistic induction while mathematical realism is susceptible to it.
Saatsi’s minimal realism holds that science makes theoretical progress. It is designed to get around the pessimistic induction, to fall between scientific realism and instrumentalism, and to explain the success of scientific theories. I raise the following two objections to it. First, it is not clear whether minimal realism lies between realism and instrumentalism, given that minimal realism does not entail instrumentalism. Second, it is not clear whether minimal realism can explain the success of scientific theories, given that it is (...) doubtful that theoretical progress makes success likely. In addition to raising these two objections, I develop and criticize a new position that truly falls between realism and instrumentalism. (shrink)
We examine recent work in cognitive neuroscience that investigates brain networks. Brain networks are characterized by the ways in which brain regions are functionally and anatomically connected to one another. Cognitive neuroscientists use various noninvasive techniques (e.g., fMRI) to investigate these networks. They represent them formally as graphs. And they use various graph theoretic techniques to analyze them further. We distinguish between knowledge of the graph theoretic structure of such networks (structural knowledge) and knowledge of what instantiates that structure (nonstructural (...) knowledge). And we argue that this work provides structural knowledge of brain networks. We explore the significance of this conclusion for the scientific realism debate. We argue that our conclusion should not be understood as an instance of a global structural realist claim regarding the structure of the unobservable part of the world, but instead, as a local structural realist attitude towards brain networks in particular. And we argue that various local approaches to the realism debate, i.e., approaches that restrict realist commitments to particular theories and/or entities, are problematic insofar as they don't allow for the possibility of such a local structural realist attitude. (shrink)
En su reciente obra Tony Lawson nos invita a recorrer una vez más un análisis detallado de los problemas de la economía como ciencia, y en particular del modelar matemático. Intenta responder a preguntas como ¿qué hacen los economistas académicos modernos?, ¿qué es actualmente la economía mainstream?, ¿qué esla economía neoclásica y qué la heterodoxa?, ¿cómo se relacionan las preocupaciones de los economistas modernos con aquellas que tradicionalmente consideraba la disciplina? y ¿cómo llegó la economía a su estado actual?
Extensional scientific realism is the view that each believable scientific theory is supported by the unique first-order evidence for it and that if we want to believe that it is true, we should rely on its unique first-order evidence. In contrast, intensional scientific realism is the view that all believable scientific theories have a common feature and that we should rely on it to determine whether a theory is believable or not. Fitzpatrick argues that extensional realism is immune, while intensional (...) realism is not, to the pessimistic induction. I reply that if extensional realism overcomes the pessimistic induction at all, that is because it implicitly relies on the theoretical resource of intensional realism. I also argue that extensional realism, by nature, cannot embed a criterion for distinguishing between believable and unbelievable theories. (shrink)
I discuss the prospects of perspectival realism for resolving the problem of incompatible models or theories in scientific practice. My diagnosis is that the perspectivist can secure the ‘realism’ in her position only by employing suitable relations between the models. It is such relations that do the work, not the general philosophical claim about the perspectival nature of knowledge claims. But appeal to such relations has also been the preferred strategy of scientific realist approaches to the problem. With respect to (...) the problem of incompatible models, then, it is not clear that perspectivism has a clear advantage—even though the issue was among the motivating problems for proposing this view. I suggest, however, that the required inter-model relations embody a narrower notion of perspective, a notion that is explicitly part of the models themselves and that is essential in maintaining a realist view. (shrink)
I explore a challenge that idealisations pose to scientific realism and argue that the realist can best accommodate idealisations by capitalising on certain modal features of idealised models that are underwritten by laws of nature.
The notion of 'natural kinds' has been central to contemporary discussions of metaphysics and philosophy of science. In recent years, essentialism has been the dominant account of natural kinds among philosophers, but the essentialist view has encountered resistance. Informed by detailed examination of classification in the natural and social sciences, Prof. Muhammad Ali Khalidi argues against essentialism and for a naturalist account of natural kinds. By looking at case studies drawn from diverse scientific disciplines, from fluid mechanics to virology and (...) polymer science to psychiatry, the author argues that natural kinds are nodes in causal networks. On the basis of this account, he maintains that there can be natural kinds in the social sciences as well as the natural sciences. (shrink)
I argue that neither realist nor anti-realist accounts of theory-change can account for the transition from zymotic views of disease to germ views. The trouble with realism is its focus on stable and continuous elements that get retained in the transition from one theory to the next; the trouble with anti-realism is its focus on the radical discontinuity between theories and their successors. I show that neither of these approaches works for the transition from zymes to germs: there is neither (...) continuity nor discontinuity, but, instead, a gradual evolution from zyme to germ views, during which germ elements are slowly incorporated into zymotic views until, eventually, none of the original zymotic constituents are left. I argue that the problem with both realism and anti-realism is that they rest on the unwarranted assumption that there are clearly delineated zymotic and germ theories as well as arguments for and against these theories, an assumption that does not hold. (shrink)
In this introduction, I motivate the project of examining certain resonances between ancient skeptical positions, especially Pyrrhonism, and positions in contemporary epistemology, with special attention to recent work in the epistemology of science. One such resonance concerns the idea of suspension of judgment or belief in certain contexts or domains of inquiry, and the reasons for (or processes eventuating in) suspension. Another concerns the question of whether suspension of belief in such circumstances is voluntary, in any of the senses discussed (...) in current work on voluntarism in epistemology, which informs recent discussions of how voluntarism regarding epistemic stances may shed light on positions like scientific realism and antirealism. The aim of this special issue is thus to explore certain analogies and disanalogies between ancient and contemporary debates about skepticism, and to consider whether and to what extent the former can provide insight into the latter. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider the role of exact symmetries in theories of physics, working throughout with the example of gravitation set in Newtonian spacetime. First, I spend some time setting up a means of thinking about symmetries in this context; second, I consider arguments from the seeming undetectability of absolute velocities to an anti-realism about velocities; and finally, I claim that the structure of the theory licences us to interpret models which differ only with regards to the absolute velocities (...) of objects as depicting the same physical state of affairs. In defending this last claim, I consider how ideas and resources from the philosophy of language may usefully be brought to bear on this topic. (shrink)
Naturalised realism’ is presented as a version of realism which is more compatible with the history of science than convergent or explanationist forms of realism. The account is unpacked according to four theses: 1) Whether realism is warranted with regards to a particular theory depends on the kind and quality of evidence available for that theory; 2) Reference is about causal interaction with the world; 3) Most of science happens somewhere in between instrumentalism and scientific realism on a continuum of (...) stances towards the status of theories; 4) The degree to which realism is warranted has something to do with the degree to which theories successfully refer, rather than with the truth of theories. (shrink)