Discovery, theory change and structural realism

Synthese 179 (3):361 - 376 (2011)

Abstract

In this paper I consider two accounts of scientific discovery, Robert Hudson's and Peter Achinstein's. I assess their relative success and I show that while both approaches are similar in promising ways, and address experimental discoveries well, they could address the concerns of the discovery sceptic more explicitly than they do. I also explore the implications of their inability to address purely theoretical discoveries, such as those often made in mathematical physics. I do so by showing that extending Hudson's or Achinstein's account to such cases can sometimes provide a misleading analysis about who ought to be credited as a discoverer. In the final sections of the paper I work out some revisions to the Hudson/Achinstein account by drawing from a so-called structural realist view of theory change. Finally, I show how such a modified account of discovery can answer sceptical critics such as Musgrave or Woolgar without producing misleading analyses about who ought to receive credit as a discoverer in cases from the mathematical sciences. I illustrate the usefulness of this approach by providing an analysis of the case of the discovery of the Casimir effect

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,855

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-10-10

Downloads
99 (#121,306)

6 months
1 (#386,031)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Similar books and articles

Friedman’s Relativised A Priori and Structural Realism: In Search of Compatibility.Milena Ivanova - 2011 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (1):23 - 37.
Theory Change, Structural Realism, and the Relativised a Priori.Dan McArthur - 2008 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 22 (1):5 – 20.
Recent Debates Over Structural Realism.Daniel McArthur - 2006 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 37 (2):209 - 224.
A.I., Scientific Discovery and Realism.Mario Alai - 2004 - Minds and Machines 14 (1):21-42.
The Process of Discovery.Wei-Min Shen - 1995 - Foundations of Science 1 (2):233-251.
A Gradualist Theory of Discovery in Ecology.David Castle - 2001 - Biology and Philosophy 16 (4):547-571.
Discoveries, When and by Whom?Robert G. Hudson - 2001 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (1):75-93.