How not to be a realist

In Elaine M. Landry & Dean Rickles (eds.), Structure, Objects and Causality, , Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science, vol. 77. Springer. pp. 59-76 (2011)
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When it comes to name-calling, structural realists have heard pretty much all of it. Among the many insults, they have been called ‘empiricist anti-realists’ but also ‘traditional scientific realists’. Obviously the collapse accusations that motivate these two insults cannot both be true at the same time. The aim of this paper is to defend the epistemic variety of structural realism against the accusation of collapse to traditional scientific realism. In so doing, I turn the tables on traditional scientific realists by presenting them with a dilemma. They can either opt for a construal of their view that permits epistemic access to non-structural features of unobservables but then face the daunting task of substantiating a claim that seems to have little hope of being true or they can drop the requirement of epistemic access to non-structural features but then face a collapse to epistemic structural realism. There is thus only one well supported way to be a realist. No wonder then that many traditional scientific realists have over the years expressed views that are strikingly similar to epistemic structural realism. It is high time to let these epistemic structural realists out of the closet.



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Ioannis Votsis
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

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References found in this work

A confutation of convergent realism.Larry Laudan - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (1):19-49.
Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits.Bertrand Russell - 2009 - New York, USA: Simon and Schuster.

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