From Instrumentalism to Constructive Realism: On Some Relations Between Confirmation, Empirical Progress, and Truth Approximation

Dordrecht, Netherland: Springer (2000)
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Abstract

Surprisingly, modified versions of the confirmation theory (Carnap and Hempel) and truth approximation theory (Popper) turn out to be smoothly sythesizable. The glue between the two appears to be the instrumentalist methodology, rather than that of the falsificationalist. The instrumentalist methodology, used in the separate, comparative evaluation of theories in terms of their successes and problems (hence, even if already falsified), provides in theory and practice the straight road to short-term empirical progress in science ( à la Laudan). It is also argued that such progress is also functional for all kinds of truth approximation: observational, referential, and theoretical. This sheds new light on the long-term dynamics of science and hence on the relation between the main epistemological positions, viz., instrumentalism (Toulmin, Laudan), constructive empiricism (Van Fraassen), referential realism (Hacking, Cartwright), and theory realism of a non-essentialist nature (constructive realism à la Popper). Readership: Open minded philosophers and scientists. The book explains and justifies the scientist's intuition that the debate among philosophers about instrumentalism and realism has almost no practical consequences.

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Citations of this work

Inference to the Best explanation.Peter Lipton - 2004 - In Martin Curd & Stathis Psillos (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Routledge. pp. 193.
Truth-Seeking by Abduction.Ilkka Niiniluoto - 2018 - Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
Entity Realism Meets Perspectivism.Mahdi Khalili - 2023 - Acta Analytica 39 (1):79-95.
Patterns of abduction.Gerhard Schurz - 2008 - Synthese 164 (2):201-234.
Measuring coherence.Igor Douven & Wouter Meijs - 2007 - Synthese 156 (3):405 - 425.

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References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.Richard Rorty - 1979 - Princeton University Press.
How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Ways of worldmaking.Nelson Goodman - 1978 - Hassocks [Eng.]: Harvester Press.

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