This paper discusses an argument for scientific realism put forward by Anthony Quinton in The Nature of Things. The argument – here called the controlled continuity argument – seems to have received no attention in the literature, apparently because it may easily be mistaken for a better-known argument, Grover Maxwell’s “argument from the continuum”. It is argued here that, in point of fact, the two are quite distinct and that Quinton’s argument has several advantages over Maxwell’s. The controlled continuity argument is also compared to Ian Hacking’s “argument from coincidence”. It is pointed out that both arguments are to a large extent independent from considerations about high-level scientific theories, and that both are abductive arguments at the core. But these similarities do not dilute an important difference related to the fact that Quinton’s argument cleverly seeks to anchor belief in unobservable entities in realism about ordinary objects, which is a position shared by most contemporary scientific anti-realists
Keywords abductive inferences  Anthony Quinton  experimental realism  Ian Hacking  observability  scientific realism
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DOI 10.1007/s10838-006-7152-4
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How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
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