Axiomathes 27 (6):635-651 (2017)

Michel Ghins
Université Catholique de Louvain
Explanationist strategies for defending epistemological scientific realism make heavy use of a particular version of inference to the best explanation known as the no-miracle argument. I consider ESR to be a genuinely philosophical—non-naturalistic—thesis which contends that there are strong arguments to believe in some non-observational claims made by scientific theories that are partially observationally correct. In this paper, I examine the grounds of the strength of these arguments from what I call a contemplative perspective which focuses on the end products, i.e. theories, of the scientific activity as opposed to the pragmatist view which considers science to be primarily an activity. I briefly rehearse the main difficulties of the no-miracle argument and of inference to the best explanation in general. I argue that a convincing defence of ESR should be based on the empirically ascertained reality of causal connections between theoretical entities which possess properties that are in principle observable and the results of measurements or observations. The knowledge of those causal connections may well deliver an—even the best—explanation of the appearances. But belief in the existence of some unobservable entities is mainly justified by their empirically attested causal role, not on their possible explanatory function.
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DOI 10.1007/s10516-017-9356-0
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Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. van Fraassen - 1989 - Oxford University Press.
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Meaning and the Moral Sciences.Hilary Putnam - 1978 - Routledge and Kegan Paul.

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