Baseball, pessimistic inductions and the turnover fallacy

Analysis 62 (4):281–285 (2002)
Among the niftiest arguments for scientific anti-realism is the ‘pessimistic induction’ (also sometimes called ‘the disastrous historical meta-induction’). Although various versions of this argument differ in their details (see, for example, Poincare 1952: 160, Putnam 1978: 25, and Laudan 1981), the argument generally begins by recalling the many scientific theories that posit unobservable entities and that at one time or another were widely accepted. The anti-realist then argues that when these old theories were accepted, the evidence for them was quite persuasive – roughly as compelling as our current evidence is for our best scientific theories positing various unobservable entities. Nevertheless, the anti-realist argues, most of these old theories turned out to be incorrect in the unobservables they posited. Therefore, the anti-realist concludes that with regard to the theories we currently accept, we should believe that probably, most of them are likewise incorrect in the unobservable entities they posit. (This argument appeals to what our best current theories say about unobservables in order to show that the entities posited by some earlier theory are not real. So the argument takes the form of a reductio of the view that the apparent success of some scientific theory justifies our believing in its accuracy regarding unobservables.) Of course, this argument has been criticized on many grounds. Some have argued, for instance, that the scientific theories we currently accept are much better supported than were earlier scientific theories at the time they were accepted. In addition, some have argued that many scientific theories accepted justly in the past were in fact accurate..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/1467-8284.00368
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,807
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Are Unconceived Alternatives a Problem for Scientific Realism?Michael Devitt - 2011 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 42 (2):285-293.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Optimism About the Pessimistic Induction.Sherrilyn Roush - 2010 - In P. D. Magnus & Jacob Busch (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Science. Palgrave-Macmillan.
A Confutation of the Pessimistic Induction.Seungbae Park - 2011 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 42 (1):75-84.
On the Pessimistic Induction and Two Fallacies.Juha Saatsi - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1088-1098.
The Pessimistic Induction, the Flight to Reference and the Metaphysical Zoo.Michael A. Bishop - 2003 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (2):161 – 178.
Science and Reality.[author unknown] - 1929 - Journal of Philosophical Studies 4 (16):580-581.
From Standard Scientific Realism and Structural Realism to Best Current Theory Realism.Gerald D. Doppelt - 2011 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 42 (2):295-316.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
161 ( #32,210 of 2,214,608 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #239,296 of 2,214,608 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature