Realism versus anti-realism: philosophical problem or scientific concern?

Synthese 196 (10):3961-3977 (2019)
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Abstract

The decision whether to have a realist or an anti-realist attitude towards scientific hypotheses is interpreted in this paper as a choice that scientists themselves have to face in their work as scientists, rather than as a ‘philosophical’ problem. Scientists’ choices between realism and instrumentalism are interpreted in this paper with the help of two different conceptual tools: a deflationary semantics grounded in the inferentialist approach to linguistic practices developed by some authors, and an epistemic utility function that tries to represent the cognitive preferences of scientists. The first tool is applied to two different questions traditionally related to the problem of scientific realism: the non-miracle argument, and the continuity of reference. The second one is applied to the problem of unconceived alternatives, and to the distinction between realist and instrumentalist attitudes towards scientific hypotheses.

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Jesus Pedro Zamora Bonilla
National Distance Education University

Citations of this work

On the Explanatory Power of Dispositional Realism.Nélida Gentile & Susana Lucero - forthcoming - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie:1-16.

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