Realism about what?

Philosophy of Science 59 (4):691-697 (1992)
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Roger Jones asks what Newtonian realists should be realists about, given that there are four empirically equivalent formulations of Newtonian mechanics which have different ontological commitments and explanatory mechanisms. A realist answer is sketched: Newtonians should be realists about what the best metaphysical considerations dictate, where the best metaphysical considerations are those which have yielded the best physics. Metaphysical considerations are required within physics, just as they are required to eliminate idealist and surrealist theories which are empirically equivalent to realist ones. Realists must reject the positivist assumption that empirically equivalent theories are explanatory and evidential equivalents, too



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