Synthese 160 (2):249-267 (2008)

Authors
George Steven Botterill
University of Sheffield
Abstract
The thesis of underdetermination presents a major obstacle to the epistemological claims of scientific realism. That thesis is regularly assumed in the philosophy of science, but is puzzlingly at odds with the actual history of science, in which empirically adequate theories are thin on the ground. We propose to advance a case for scientific realism which concentrates on the process of scientific reasoning rather than its theoretical products. Developing an account of causal–explanatory inference will make it easier to resist the thesis of underdetermination. For, if we are not restricted to inference to the best explanation only at the level of major theories, we will be able to acknowledge that there is a structure in data sets which imposes serious constraints on possible theoretical alternatives. We describe how Differential Inference, a form of inference based on contrastive explanation, can be used in order to generate causal hypotheses. We then go on to consider how experimental manipulation of differences can be used to achieve Difference Closure, thereby confirming claims of causal efficacy and also eliminating possible confounds. The model of Differential Inference outlined here shows at least one way in which it is possible to ‘reason from the phenomena’.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Language   Metaphysics   Epistemology   Logic
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-006-9117-x
Options
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: 72,564
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

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1991 - London and New York: Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
The Scientific Image.C. Van Fraassen Bas - 1980 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

View all 19 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.
Which Models of Scientific Explanation Are (In)Compatible with IBE?Yunus Prasetya - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Two Kinds of Causal Explanation.George Botterill - 2010 - Theoria 76 (4):287-313.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Scientific Realism and Postmodern Philosophy.Nancey Murphy - 1990 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 41 (3):291-303.
Anti-Realism Against Methodology.Husain Sarkar - 1998 - Synthese 116 (3):379-402.
Melia and Saatsi on Structural Realism.Zanja Yudell - 2010 - Synthese 175 (2):241-253.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
193 ( #62,469 of 2,533,566 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #390,861 of 2,533,566 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes