Logic Journal of the IGPL 13 (1):95-111 (2005)

Authors
Michel Ghins
Université Catholique de Louvain
Abstract
In this paper I argue in favour of a moderate and selective version of scientific realism with respect to the existence of some physical theoretical objects and the truth of some statements about them. The analysis of common sense or ordinary experience reveals that existence and truth assertions concerning familiar objects are warranted if they satisfy what we call the criteria of presence and invariance. Ordinary objects exemplify a form or a structure determined by constant and changing features with respect to the variation of the conditions of observation and a content given in sensory presence. It is claimed that some theoretical physical objects that possess a structure or a form determined by invariant and variable characteristics relatively to a specified group of transformations and a content provided by observations on which the measurement of those characteristics is grounded can also be justifiably asserted to exist. We further show that this defence of scientific realism in physics doesn't fall prey to the objections that have been raised against the usual vindication of scientific realism based on the no-miracle argument. Some standard objections to scientific realism, such as the underdetermination of theories by observations and the pessimistic meta-induction, are examined and shown to be unconvincing
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DOI 10.1093/jigpal/jzi006
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