The limits of scientific explanation and the no-miracles argument

There are certain explanations that scientists do not accept, even though such explanations do not conflict with observation, logic, or other scientific theories. I argue that a common version of the no-miracles argument (NMA) for scientific realism relies upon just such an explanation. First, scientists (usually) do not accept explanations whose explanans neither generates novel predictions nor unifies apparently disparate phenomena. Second, scientific realism (as it appears in the NMA) is an explanans that makes no new predictions, and fails to unify disparate phenomena. Third, Psillos, Boyd, and other proponents of the NMA explicitly adopt a naturalism that forbids philosophy of science from using any methods not employed by science itself. Therefore, such naturalistic philosophers of science should not accept the version of scientific realism that appears in the NMA. [Publication note: This text is for a talk at the 2008 PSA convention. An expanded version of the talk was later published as a regular article in Philosophy of Science (2010).]
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