The pessimistic induction and the exponential growth of science reassessed

Synthese 190 (18):4321-4330 (2013)
K. Brad Wray
Aarhus University
My aim is to evaluate a new realist strategy for addressing the pessimistic induction, Ludwig Fahrbach’s (Synthese 180:139–155, 2011) appeal to the exponential growth of science. Fahrbach aims to show that, given the exponential growth of science, the history of science supports realism. I argue that Fahrbach is mistaken. I aim to show that earlier generations of scientists could construct a similar argument, but one that aims to show that the theories that they accepted are likely true. The problem with this is that from our perspective on the history of science we know their argument is flawed. Consequently, we should not be impressed or persuaded by Fahrbach’s argument. Fahrbach has failed to identify a difference that matters between today’s theories and past theories. But realists need to find such a difference if they are to undermine the pessimistic induction
Keywords Pessimistic induction  Exponential growth  Realism  Anti-realism  Scientific success  Theories
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-013-0276-2
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References found in this work BETA

Meaning and the Moral Sciences.Hilary Putnam - 1978 - Routledge and Kegan Paul.
A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (1):19-49.

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The Anti-Induction for Scientific Realism.Seungbae Park - 2018 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 95 (3):329-342.

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