On Reichenbach's argument for scientific realism

Synthese 181 (1):23 - 40 (2011)
The aim of this paper is to articulate, discuss in detail and criticise Reichenbach's sophisticated and complex argument for scientific realism. Reichenbach's argument has two parts. The first part aims to show how there can be reasonable belief in unobservable entities, though the truth of claims about them is not given directly in experience. The second part aims to extent the argument of the first part to the case of realism about the external world, conceived of as a world of independently existing entities distinct from sensations. It is argued that the success of the first part depends on a change of perspective, where unobservable entities are viewed as projective complexes vis-à-vis their observable symptoms, or effects. It is also argued that there is an essential difference between the two parts of the argument, which Reichenbach comes (somewhat reluctantly) to accept.
Keywords Scientific realism  Reichenbach  Bayesianism  Base-rate fallacy  Explanation
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Hans Reichenbach (1939). Experience and Prediction. Philosophical Review 48 (5):536-538.

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