Authors
Derek D. Turner
Connecticut College
Abstract
Scientific realism is fundamentally a view about unobservable things, events, processes, and so on, but things can be unobservable either because they are tiny or because they are past. The familiar abductive arguments for scientific realism lend more justification to scientific realism about the tiny than to realism about the past. This paper examines both the “basic” abductive arguments for realism advanced by philosophers such as Ian Hacking and Michael Devitt, as well as Richard Boyd’s version of the inference to the best explanation of the success of science, and shows that these arguments provide less support to historical than to experimental realism. This is because unobservably tiny things can function both as unifiers of the phenomena and as tools for the production of new phenomena, whereas things in the past can only serve as unifiers of the phenomena. The upshot is that realists must not suppose that by presenting arguments for experimental realism they have thereby defended realism in general.Author Keywords: Author Keywords: Realism; Abduction; Historical science; Hacking; Devitt; Boyd
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2003.12.012
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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.
Explanation and Scientific Understanding.Michael Friedman - 1974 - Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):5-19.
Explanatory Unification and the Causal Structure of the World.Philip Kitcher - 1989 - In Philip Kitcher & Wesley Salmon (eds.), Scientific Explanation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pp. 410-505.
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Truth and the Past.Michael Dummett - 2004 - Columbia University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Misleading Observable Analogues in Paleontology.Derek Turner - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (1):175-183.
Paleobiology and Philosophy.Adrian Currie - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (2):31.

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