Synthese:1-21 (2016)

Authors
Juha Saatsi
University of Leeds
Abstract
The epistemic conception of scientific progress equates progress with accumulation of scientific knowledge. I argue that the epistemic conception fails to fully capture scientific progress: theoretical progress, in particular, can transcend scientific knowledge in important ways. Sometimes theoretical progress can be a matter of new theories ‘latching better onto unobservable reality’ in a way that need not be a matter of new knowledge. Recognising this further dimension of theoretical progress is particularly significant for understanding scientific realism, since realism is naturally construed as the claim that science makes theoretical progress. Some prominent realist positions are best understood in terms of commitment to theoretical progress that cannot be equated with accumulation of scientific knowledge
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1118-9
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