Philosophical Studies 111 (2):97 - 120 (2002)

Eric Barnes
Southern Methodist University
The miracle argument for scientific realism can be cast in two forms: according to the miraculous theory argument, realism is the only position which does not make the empirical successes of particular theories miraculous. According to the miraculous choice argument, realism is the only position which does not render the fact that empirically successful theories have been chosen a miracle. A vast literature discusses the miraculous theory argument, but the miraculous choice argument has been unjustifiably neglected. I raise two objections to Richard Boyd's defense of the latter: (1) we have no miracle free account of the emergence of take-off theories and (2) the anti-realist can account for the non-miraculous choice of empirically successful theories by attributing mere empirical adequacy to background theory. I argue that the availability of extra-empirical criteria that are arguably truth conductive but not theory-laden suffices to answer (1), and the unavailability of extra-empirical criteria that are conductive to empirical adequacy but not necessarily to truth (and are also not theory-laden) constitutes to reply to (2). The prospects for a realist victory are at least somewhat promising, on a controversial assumption about the rate at which empirically successful theories emerge.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Philosophy of Mind   Philosophy of Religion
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/A:1021204812809
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,066
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

Studies in Scientific Realism.André Kukla - 1998 - Oxford University Press.
The Encyclopedia of Philosophy.Paul Edwards (ed.) - 1967 - New York: Macmillan.
The Current Status of Scientific Realism.Richard Boyd - 1984 - In J. Leplin (ed.), Scientific Realism. University of California. pp. 195--222.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Scientific Realism.Richard Boyd - 1984 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 21 (1&2):767-791.
Scientific Realism.Anjan Chakravartty - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Methodological Naturalism and Scientific Success.Yunus Adi Prasetya - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 14 (1):231-256.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Empirical Adequacy and Ramsification.Jeffrey Ketland - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):287-300.
The Prospective Stance in Realism.Ioannis Votsis - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1223-1234.
The Supernatural and the Miraculous.Steve Clarke - 2007 - Sophia 46 (3):277 - 285.
From Standard Scientific Realism and Structural Realism to Best Current Theory Realism.Gerald D. Doppelt - 2011 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 42 (2):295-316.
The Argument From Underconsideration as Grounds for Anti‐Realism: A Defence.K. Brad Wray - 2008 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 22 (3):317 – 326.


Added to PP index

Total views
246 ( #44,063 of 2,498,778 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #210,759 of 2,498,778 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes