In Jorge Secada & C. Wee (eds.), The Cartesian Mind (forthcoming)

Authors
Manuel Barrantes
University of Virginia (PhD)
Abstract
In the Principles, Descartes explains several observable phenomena showing that they are caused by special arrangements of unobservable microparticles. Despite these microparticles being unobservable, many passages suggest that he was very confident that these explanations were correct. In other passages, however, Descartes points out that these explanations merely hold the status of ‘suppositions’ or ‘conjectures’ that could be wrong. The aim of this chapter is to clarify this apparent conflict. I argue that the possibility of natural explanations being wrong should be understood as these explanations not being absolutely certain, but as being morally certain. Cartesian explanations rely on what Ernan McMullin calls retroduction, which is a mode of inference that justifies beliefs in concrete unobservable entities and processes. I use as a foil the debate in contemporary philosophy of science between scientific realism and instrumentalism, and argue that for Descartes we could indeed have knowledge of the unobservable world. In that sense, he was closer to being a scientific realist.
Keywords Scientific explanation  Scientific realism  Retroduction  IBE  Moral certainty
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on Amazon.com
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Two Cornell Realisms: Moral and Scientific.Elliott Sober - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (4):905-924.
Default Privilege and Bad Lots: Underconsideration and Explanatory Inference.Kareem Khalifa - 2010 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 24 (1):91 – 105.
A Progress Report on Cognitive Foundationalism and Metaphysical Realism.Tom Rockmore - 2014 - Epistemology and Philosophy of Science 39 (1):53-59.
Why the Ultimate Argument for Scientific Realism Ultimately Fails.Moti Mizrahi - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (1):132-138.
Scientific Realism as the Most Reasonable Choice?Federica Isabella Malfatti - 2018 - Isonomia: Online Philosophical Journal of the University of Urbino 1:1-17.
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.
Scientific Realism and Antirealism.Michael Liston - 2016 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Scientific Realism and Antirealism.Liston Michael - 2016 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2019-06-27

Total views
213 ( #42,684 of 2,409,576 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
132 ( #4,252 of 2,409,576 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes