In earlier work I have argued that the most substantial threat to scientific realism arises from the problem of unconceived alternatives: the repeated failure of past scientists and scientific communities to conceive of alternatives to extant scientific theories, even when such alternatives were both (1) well confirmed by the evidence available at the time and (2) sufficiently scientifically serious as to be later embraced by actual scientific communities. In this paper I explore Charles Darwin's development and defense of his 'pangenesis' theory of inheritance and conclude that this particular historical example offers impressive support for the challenge posed to realism by this problem of unconceived alternatives
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/bjps/axi158
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 60,750
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Exceeding Our Grasp.Kyle Stanford - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 137 (1):135-139.
Darwin on Variation and Heredity.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2000 - Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):425-455.
Refusing the Devil's Bargain: What Kind of Underdetermination Should We Take Seriously?P. Kyle Stanford - 2001 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S1-.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Non‐Competitor Conditions in the Scientific Realism Debate.Timothy D. Lyons - 2009 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (1):65-84.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

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.
Inductions, Red Herrings, and the Best Explanation for the Mixed Record of Science.P. D. Magnus - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (4):803-819.
On Not Changing the Problem: A Reply to Howson.Daniel Steel - 2011 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (3):285 - 291.


Added to PP index

Total views
352 ( #24,027 of 2,438,716 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #283,612 of 2,438,716 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes