Derek D. Turner
Connecticut College
Carman argues, in ‘The electrons of the dinosaurs and the center of the Earth’, that we may have more reason to be realists about dinosaurs than about electrons, because there are plenty of observable analogues for dinosaurs but not for electrons. These observable analogues severely restrict the range of plausible ontologies, thus reducing the threat of underdetermination. In response to this argument, I show that the observable analogues for ancient organisms are a mixed epistemic blessing at best, and I discuss some cases from the history of paleontology in which the observable analogues—ducks, shrimp, and lizards—have led scientists into persisting error. I also give reasons for thinking that underdetermination will be just as serious a problem in historical as in experimental science. I conclude that Carman has not succeeded in showing that dinosaurs ‘come off better’ than electrons.Keywords: Paleontology; Pessimistic induction; Realism; Unobservables
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2004.12.010
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References found in this work BETA

A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (1):19-49.
A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 1980 - In Yuri Balashov & Alexander Rosenberg (eds.), Philosophy of Science: Contemporary Readings. Routledge. pp. 211.
Local Underdetermination in Historical Science.Derek Turner - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (1):209-230.

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Citations of this work BETA

Paleontology: Outrunning Time.John E. Huss - 2017 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science 326:211-235.
La paléontologie: distancer le temps.John Huss - 2018 - In Christophe Bouton & Philippe Huneman (eds.), Temps de la nature, nature du temps. Paris: CNRS Editions. pp. 239-266.

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