Explaining the Success of Science: Kuhn and Scientific Realists

Topoi 32 (1):43-51 (2013)
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Abstract

In this essay, I critically evaluate the approaches to explaining the success of science in Kuhn and the works of inference-to-the-best-explanation scientific realists. Kuhn ’s challenge to realists, who invoke the truth of theories to explain their success, is two-fold. His paradigm-account of success confronts realists with the problem of theory change, and the historical fact of successful theories later rejected as false. Secondly, Kuhn ’s account of the success of science has no need to bring truth into the explanation. In turn, I argue that weakness in Kuhn and the prevailing forms of scientific realism motivate a better account of realism which I characterize as ‘best current theory realism’ and defend against the pessimistic meta-induction and the problem of theory-change. This realism argues that the best explanation of the success of current and past scientific theories only requires the simple claim that our best current theories are true. Kuhn ’s account can explain how normal science succeeds but cannot account for why its problem solutions work where they do and why they fail for other puzzles

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Citations of this work

On Treating Past and Present Scientific Theories Differently.Seungbae Park - 2017 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):63-76.
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