There are only two contending explanations: SR and Idealism. Abstract. Structuralists can also resist the argument from empirically equivalent theories (§6c)—to the extent that the theories are structurally equivalent they would capture the same structural facts, which is all a theory needs to capture—and do so without embracing a particular realist ontology occupying the nodes of the structure. But there is always the option of declining to choose, of remaining agnostic. Niiniluoto, I. Unfortunately, the content of “is an electron” is open-ended and outstrips observational content so that no explicit definition of it in terms of a finite list of O-terms can be given in first-order logic. Again realism succeeds where positivism fails. Critics see NOA as a flight from, rather than a response to, the scientific realism question (Musgrave 1989). Many debates in the early 21st century focus on historical inductions, especially on what representative basis would warrant an inductive extrapolation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (This idea can be rendered precisely in second-order logic by a “Ramseyified” definition: “electron” means “the thing x such that Θ(x)”, where “Θ(x)” is the result of taking the theory of electrons Θ (understood as the conjunction of a set of sentences) and replacing all occurrences of “is an electron” with the (second-order) variable “x” (Lewis 1970). To understand “No emerald is blue” one need only know the verification conditions for “This is an emerald”, “This is blue” and the logical relations of such sentences to “No emerald is blue” (for example, that “no emerald is blue” implies “if this is an emerald, then this is not blue”, and so forth). IBE is the rule that we should infer the truth of the theory (if there is one) that best explains the phenomena. To export the items, click on the button corresponding with the preferred download format. Take our language and total theory of the world. Argument 1-3 (§5d) is an instance of inference to the best explanation (IBE), an inferential principle that realists endorse and antirealists reject. In abandoning the notion that scientists search for truth, Kuhn also abandoned scientific realism, thus challenging a defining characteristic of modern science since the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In particular, questions about the reality of some putative objects are to be answered in terms of whether they contribute to a useful organization of experience and whether they withstand the test of experience. T. J. McCormack, 6th edition., La Salle: Open Court. More recent responses to these counterexamples attempt to steer a middle course between optimistic inductions like Putnam’s NMA (§5d) and pessimistic inductions like Laudan’s and Stanford’s (§§7b, 11b). For Quine, metaphysical questions are just the most general and abstract questions we ask and are decided on the grounds we use to decide whether electrons exist. This distinction rests on the observational-theoretical distinction (§3b): scientific sentences (even theoretical ones like “Electrons exist”) have meaningful verifiable content; sentences of metaphysics (like “God exists”) have no verifiable content and are meaningless. Kantians think that physical space must be Euclidean because only Euclidean geometry is consistent with the form of our sensibility. Which group of conventions we adopt depends on pragmatic factors: other things being equal, we choose conventions that make physics simpler, more tractable, more familiar, and so forth. By contrast, realist truth and reference are trans-theoretic: once “electron” was introduced into the language by Stoney, it causally “locked onto” the property being an electron; then the various theorists were talking about that entity and making new discoveries about it. First, van Fraassen runs together different notions, none of which has special epistemological relevance. Finally, because of their meta-level appeals to IBE, they are committed to SR5 because it best explains the instrumental success of our best theories and the increasing instrumental success of sequences of theories (where T* is more successful than T because T* is closer to the truth than T), and so forth. In their day, however, they were revolutionaries, attempting to come to grips with the profound changes that Einstein’s relativity and Bohr’s quantum mechanics had wrought on the worldview of classical physics and to provide firm logical foundations for all science. Musgrave, A. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. If a single hypothesis, H, implies an observational consequence O and we get evidence for not-O; then we can deduce not-H. If I see nibbled cheese and little black deposits in my kitchen and hear scratching noises in the walls, I reasonably infer that I have mice, because that best explains my evidence. First, fundamental laws are non-factive: they describe idealized objects in abstract mathematical models, not natural systems. Some espoused local antirealism (antirealist about some kinds of entities, as Hertz (1956) was about forces, while not espousing antirealism about physics generally). In the Einstein-Bohr methodological debates about the completeness of quantum mechanics, the realist Einstein saw QM as a degenerate theory, while the instrumentalist Bohr saw QM as a progressive theory. As Putnam says, realism is the only hypothesis that does not make the success of science a miracle. Second, scientists do not consider themselves bound by a principle that demands that every correlation be explained. Chakravartty, A. Premise 1 presupposes that all and only what a theory says or implies about observables is evidentially relevant to that theory. On the other hand, skeptics see the history of science as supporting a pessimistic meta-induction: since some (many, most) past successful theories turned out to be false and their core terms not to refer, so too current successful theories may (are likely to) turn out to be false and their key terms not to refer. The former are retained in later theories; the latter are not. Duhem, P. (1991/1954/1906), The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory. According to the pessimistic induction argument, every major scientific theory throughout history has been shown to be false, (i.e. Structuralists, we saw, argue that structure (form), but not nature (content), is what is both preserved and responsible for success. Structural Realism claims that: science aims to provide a literally true account only of the structure of the world (StR1); to accept a theory is to believe it approximates such an account (StR2); the world has a determinate and mind-independent structure (StR3); theories are literally true only if they correctly represent that structure (StR4); and the progress of science asymptotically approaches a correct representation of the world’s structure (StR5). Intuitively A’ is obtained from A by removing all unobservables, so D’ would contain billiard balls but not molecules, is elastic would now be restricted to billiard balls, is a molecule would not be instantiated, and so forth. We thus have good inductive reasons to believe we are now in the same predicament—our current best theories will be replaced by incompatible and currently unconceived successors that account for all the currently available evidence. For SR and CE there is a fact of the matter: at most one of T, T’ can be true. However, these are “soft” values that guide choices rather than “hard” rules that determine choices. Finally, Fine argues, contrary to what realists often claim, realism blocks rather than promotes scientific progress. Laudan, L. (1981), “A Confutation of Convergent Realism”, Philosophy of Science, 48, 19–48. If IBE is to be non-trivial, the best explanation must not entail that what is best must antecedently be what is most likely, since of course we should infer the truth of the most likely explanation. But it is conceivable that no amount of human inquiry, even taken to the ideal limit, will decide which; so though one disjunct is true, neither may be assertible in the ideal limit. For example, they replaced explanations in terms of causal powers with explanations in terms of law-like regularities so that “causal” explanations become arguments. This week we will again debate a controversial issue together in class. Leeds, S. (1995), “Truth, Correspondence, and Success”, Philosophical Studies 79 (1), 1-36. By the late 19th century several consistent non-Euclidean geometries, mathematically distinct from Euclidean geometry, had been developed. Cambridge: MIT Press. Cartwright rejects all three components. How could this be, if the radical interpretation of Kuhn were correct? For example, that Venus has CO2 in its atmosphere is currently warrantedly assertible, but future investigation could lead us to discover that it is not true. Nevertheless, they do not deny the existence or reality of electrons: for them, to say that electrons exist or are real is merely to say that the concept electron stands in a definite logical relationship to observable conditions in a structured system of representations. Copyright © is held by the author. In idealist (or internalist) semantics content drives and the world follows: the world is whatever satisfies the descriptive content of our thoughts; the content of “water” is the clear, tasteless, potable, nourishing liquid found in lakes and rivers. First, they beg the question against antirealists, who ab initio question any connection between explanatory success and approximate truth. Putnam develops a causal-historical account of reference for natural kind terms (“water”) and physical magnitude terms (“temperature”). In each case there is a gap between our evidence (what has been observed) and what science arrives at (claims about all observables (CE) or claims about all observables and unobservables (SR)). But a realist may concede that hard choices occur: at most one of P or P* is correct, and we may have to wait and see which, if either, pans out. Newman (1928), closely related to Putnam’s model-theoretic argument (§8c), and never satisfactorily answered by Russell. Laudan, L. (1984), “Realism without the Real”, Philosophy of Science, 51, 156-162. Liston, M. (1985), “Is a God’s-Eye-View an Ideal Theory?”, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 66.3-4, 355-376. This is merely a CE version of structuralism, as van Fraassen points out (2006, 2008), and inherits many problems of CE (§6). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Because of SR5, they are committed to a historical thesis: that science asymptotically converges on the truth. Einstein’s famous analysis of absolute simultaneity showed that Newtonian absolute space and time were incorrect and had to be replaced by the space-time structure of Special Relativity. This implies that explanatory power is not a rock bottom virtue like consistency (Newton could decline to explain gravity, but he could not decline to be consistent) and does not confer likelihood of truth or empirical adequacy (Newton’s theory explained lots of phenomena but is neither true nor empirically adequate). None is likely to convince any realist (Musgrave 1985; Stanford 2001). Quine accepted meaning holism together with another thesis, epistemological holism, a doctrine often called “the Quine-Duhem Thesis”, because Duhem used it to argue against Poincaré’s conventionalism. Our experience is limited in many ways, including lacking direct access to: medium-sized events in spatiotemporally remote regions, events involving very small or very large dimensions, very small or very large mass-energy, and so forth. If this were true, then all standard theses about progress would be undermined. (1980), The Scientific Image. More strongly, Harman (1965) argues that IBE is needed to warrant straight enumerative induction: we are entitled to make the induction from “All observed As are Bs” to “All As are Bs” only if “All As are Bs” provides the best explanation of our total evidence. The introducer points to an object (or phenomenon) and intones: “let ‘t’ apply to all and only objects that are relevantly similar (same kind, same magnitude) to this sample (or to whatever is the cause of this phenomenon)”. For them, word-world relations are between words and objects-as-conceived by us. This distinction rests on their verificationist theory of meaning, according to which the meaning of a sentence is its verification conditions and understanding a sentence is knowing its verification conditions. While this works only for simple sentences built from terms that directly pick out their referents and predicates with directly verifiable content, it can be extended to other sentences. Van Fraassen challenges this alleged requirement. If each T-term could be explicitly defined using only O-terms, just as “x is a bachelor” can be defined as “x is an unmarried male human”, then one would understand the verification conditions for a T-term just by understanding the directly verifiable content of the O-terms used to define it, and a theory’s theoretical content would be just its observational content. These rival antirealist explanations of success are controversial, however (Musgrave 1985). If we cannot reach out to mind-independent objects, we must bring them into our linguistic and conceptual range. Recognizing the difficulties of basing antirealism on a “broken-backed” linguistic distinction between O-terms and T-terms, he allows our judgments about unobservables to be literally construed but, he argues, our evidence can never entitle us to our beliefs about unobservables. Euclidean geometry has a unique parallels axiom and angle sum of triangles equals 180º, whereas, for example, spherical geometry has a zero-parallel axiom and angle sum of triangles greater than or equal to 180º. Realists add to the core position the redundant word “REALLY”: “electrons REALLY exist”. Kyle Stanford’s new induction provides the latest historical challenge to SR (Stanford 2001, 2006, 2015). It is often characterized in terms of these commitments: The debate begins with modern science. Third, CE’s epistemic policy is pragmatically self-defeating or incoherent. (1) It is needed for science. So, not everything is structure; there is a distinction between empty mathematical structures and realized physical structures; OStR can not capture that distinction. Quine extends epistemological holism from physics to all knowledge, including all knowledge traditionally regarded as a priori, including allegedly analytic statements.] (1989), “Noa’s Ark–Fine for Realism”, Philosophical Quarterly 39, 383–398. (1982), “In Defense of Convergent Realism”, Philosophy of Science 49, 604-615. Friedman (1982) questions whether van Fraassen achieves this. Theories are literally true (when they are) partly because their concepts “latch on to” or correspond to real properties (natural kinds, and the like) that causally underpin successful usage of the concepts. Asking about the (global) aim of science is like asking about the meaning of life: it has no answer and needs none. Stanford, P.K. Realists tend to see the history of science as supporting an optimistic meta-induction: since past theories were successful because they were approximately true and their core terms referred, so too current successful theories must be approximately true and their central terms refer. Antirealists take a diametrically opposite view, that a theory should never be regarded as truth. Boyd, R. (1983), “On the Current Status of the Issue of Scientific Realism”, Erkenntnis, 19, 45–90. Poincaré and the positivists reply that it is conventional or analytic that space is Euclidean; there is no fact of the matter. Kuhn, T.S. Realists also employ IBE at a meta-level (§5d): we should be realists about our current theories because only realism can explain how our methodological reliance on them leads to the construction of empirically successful theories (Boyd) or only realism can explain the way in which scientific theories succeed each other and the methodological constraints scientists impose on themselves when constructing new theories (Putnam). Psillos, S. (2001), “Is Structural Realism Possible?”, Philosophy of Science 68, S13–S24. Finally, if we interpret the language of science literally (as van Fraassen does), then we ought to accept that we see tables if and only if we see collections of molecules subject to various kinds of forces. On this interpretation, the positivist project provides epistemological foundations for problematic sentences of science that purport to describe unobservable realities, such as electrons, by reducing sentences employing these concepts to unproblematic sentences that describe only observable realities. But the past theorists were generally unable to make these discriminations, so why do we think we can now make them in a reliable manner. Consequently, the explanatory success of fundamental laws cannot be cited as evidence for their truth. The basic equations of Newton, Maxwell, Einstein (STR/GTR), quantum mechanics, relativistic quantum mechanics, and so forth, are typical examples of such laws. Moreover, intermolecular forces allowing for internal vibration and deformation could not be easily conceptualized as Newtonian central forces. But can the needed distinction between structure and nature be drawn and can structures be rendered intelligible without the ontology that gives them flesh (Psillos 1995, 1999, 2001)? But then we should expect our own theories to be right about some things and wrong about others. (1987), Truthlikeness. Premise 1 is under-specified. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Looking into history, there are many theories that sound absurd to modern scientists, such as the idea that heat is an invisible liquid called phlogiston. After making a selection, click one of the export format buttons. On the other hand, also contrary to van Fraassen, scientific practice indicates that we should be realists about “unobservable” entities that are the most likely causes of the phenomena we investigate. Both realists and antirealists accept this core position, but each adds an unnecessary and flawed philosophical interpretation to it. Such theory pairs agree in what they say about observables but may disagree in what they say about unobservables. Field, before he endorsed deflationism, argued that Tarski merely reduced truth to a list-like definition of reference, but such a definition is physicalistically unacceptable (Field 1972). Leeds, S. (2007), “Correspondence Truth and Scientific Realism”, Synthese 159, 1–21. Russell, B. Russell’s ‘Causal Theory of Perception”’, Mind 37, 137-148. Putnam, H. (1975c), Philosophical Papers 1: Mathematics, Matter and Method. For example, Gauss allegedly attempted to measure the angles of a triangle between three mountaintops to test whether physical space is Euclidean. This paper operates under the following two assumptions: First, there will be scientific And even if there were natural kinds, it seems unreasonable to expect that language could neatly lock onto them: why should our accidental encounters with various samples in our limited part of the universe put us in a position to lock onto universal kinds? Virtually all T-T* transitions in the past were affected by PUA: the earlier T-theorists selected T as the best supported theory of the available alternatives; they did not conceive of T* as an alternative; T* was conceived only later yet T* is typically better supported than T. At any given time, we could only conceive a limited set of hypotheses that were confirmed by all the evidence then available, yet subsequent inquiry revealed distinct alternatives that turned out to be equally or better confirmed by that evidence. Second, IBE does not work without some logical connection between success and (approximate) truth. [It is misleading, however, to call epistemological holism “the Quine-Duhem thesis”. Thus Cartwright is anti-realist about fundamental laws: contrary to realists, they are not (even approximately) true; contrary to van Fraassen, she is not recommending agnosticism—we now know they are non-factive. Structuralists respond that, though ontologies come and go, our grip on the underlying structure of the world steadily improves. In nature there are no purely Newtonian gravitational systems or purely electromagnetic systems. The permutation move is so global that no matter what trick X one uses to distinguish reference from reference*, the argument will be redeployed so that if X relates to cats in a way that it does not to cats*, then X* (a permutation of X) will relate to cats* in the same sort of way, and there will be no way of singling out whether we’re referring to X or X*. Scientific Realism vs. Anti-Realism. 2b. A. Kitcher, P. (1993), The Advancement of Science. Second, they proposed to indirectly interpret the T-terms, using logical techniques inherited from Frege and Russell, by deductively connecting them within a theory to the directly interpreted O-terms. But then if we are willing to assert there are tables we should be willing to assert that there are collections of molecules (Friedman 1982; Wilson 1985). Liston, M. (2005), “Does ‘Rabbit’ refer to Rabbits?”, European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 1, 39-56. Maxwell, G. (1962), “On the Ontological Status of Theoretical Entities”, in H. Feigl and G. Maxwell (eds. I reply that the predicate is viable, because there are clear cases of approximately true descriptions, and because Hilpinen/Lewis's theoretical account of approximate truth can handle those clear cases. Second, we should replace the DN model of explanation with a simulacrum account: explanations confer intelligibility by fitting staged mathematical descriptions of the phenomena to an idealized mathematical model provided by the theory by means of modeling techniques that are generally “rigged” and typically ignore (as negligible) disturbing forces or mathematically incorporate them (often inconsistently). The fact that Galileo’s law, Kepler’s laws, the ideal gas laws, tidal phenomena, the behavior of macroscopic solids, liquids, and gases all find a deductive home under Newton’s laws provides warrant for belief in the facticity of Newton’s laws. (1998), Studies in Scientific Realism. Despite best efforts, no satisfactory metric has emerged that would characterize distance from the truth or the truth-distance between T and T* (Laudan 1981; Miller 1974; Niiniluoto 1987). A consistent constructive empiricist will have trouble letting science determine what is unobservable and using that determination to guide her epistemic policy—often she will not know what not to believe. Newtonian action-at-a-distance forces also came under pressure with the increasing acceptance of Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism, which attributed electromagnetic phenomena to polarizations in a dielectric medium propagated by contiguous action. Let H = “Space is Euclidean” and O = “The measured angle-sum of the triangle equals 180º”. When truth, reference, objects, and properties are thus relativized to the ideal theory, then IR1, IR2, and IR5 are just IR counterparts of their SR analogs: we aim to give accounts that would be endorsed in the ideal theory; to accept a theory is to believe it approximates the ideal theory; science (trivially) progresses toward the ideal theory. (2003a), “Pyrrhic Victories for Scientific Realism”, Journal of Philosophy 100 (11), 553-572. His New Induction on the history of science, he argues, shows that our epistemic situation is one of recurrent, transient underdetermination. (1983), Representing and Intervening. Field, H. (1982), “Realism and Relativism”, Journal of Philosophy 79 (10), 553-567. But if A is any hypothesis whatsoever, then there is no reason to think that the antecedent of Premise 1A is true, and thus 1A is again a trivial, vacuous truth. But no, scientists do not treat the conventions as analytic truths that cannot be revised without a change of meaning. Carnap, R. (1937), “Testability and Meaning–Continued”, Philosophy of Science 4, 1-40. Worrall, for example, argues that Fresnel’s structural claims about light (the mathematics) were retained, but not his commitments to a mechanical ether; his critics question whether Fresnel could have been “just” right about the structure of light-propagation and completely wrong about the nature of light.