Logical positivism began in Vienna and Berlin in the 1910s and 1920s and migrated to America after 1933, when many of its proponents fled Nazism. Both realists and antirealists accept this core position, but each adds an unnecessary and flawed philosophical interpretation to it. (1927), The Analysis of Matter. and C. Callender. At the ground-level, they observe surprising regularities like the phenomenological gas laws relating pressure, temperature, and volume. Cartwright (1983) and Hacking (1983) represent this mix of theoretical law antirealism and theoretical entity realism. These successes are a miracle on positivist principles. Fifth, antirealists might object that the key realist predicate, 'approximate truth,' is obscure. 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). Most “theoretical” entities can be detected (like electrons) with scientific instruments or theoretically calculated (like lunar gravity). Second, there is ontological structural realism (OStR), advocated by Ladyman and others (Ladyman and Ross 2007) and similar to Quine’s realism (§4). The structure of relations is typically expressed (at least in physics) by mathematical equations of the theory (Frigg and Votsis 2011). Thus, Putnam thinks, truth is epistemically transcendent: it cannot be captured by any epistemic surrogate (Putnam 1978). IR3 replaces allegedly problematic, inaccessible mind-independent objects with unproblematic, accessible objects that would be produced by the conceptual scheme we would reach in the ideal theory, and IR4 relates our words to the world as it would be carved up according to the ideal theory. 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. 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). What is observable is variously taken as: what is detectable by human senses without instruments (Jupiter’s moons); what can be “directly” measured as opposed to “indirectly” calculated; what is detectable by humans-qua-natural-measuring-instruments (as thermometers measure temperature, humans “measure” observables). Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author. First, van Fraassen runs together different notions, none of which has special epistemological relevance. CE2 distinguishes epistemic and pragmatic aspects of acceptance. 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. Miller, D. (1974), “Popper’s Qualitative Theory of Verisimilitude”, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 25, 166–177. “Real Realism: The Galilean Strategy”, The Philosophical Review 110 (2), 151-197. The success of this response depends on whether explanatorily attractive theories are more likely to be true—why should nature care that we prefer simpler, more coherent, more unified theories?—and on whether a convincing case can be made for the claim that we are evolutionarily equipped with cognitive abilities that tend to select theories that are more likely to be true because their explanatory virtues appeal to us (Churchland 1985). But this lacks physical meaning unless we decide whether shortest paths are Euclidean or non-Euclidean. 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). As realists rely on IBE, antirealists rely on EET: The argument appears to be valid, but each of its premises can be challenged (Boyd 1973; Laudan and Leplin 1991). Divide and conquer strategies argue that successful past theories were right about some things but wrong about others. My personal view is that if, hypothetically speaking, realism or anti-realism turned out to be true, then the biggest impact it would have is in the search for new theories. Trivially, two such theories are empirically equivalent since each has no empirical consequences; so any evidence equally confirms/infirms each. Churchland, P. and C. Hooker (eds) (1985), Images of Science: Essays on Realism and Empiricism, (with a reply from Bas van Fraassen). Quine, W.V. 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. We can similarly consider the offices of the U.S. President, Vice-President, Speaker of the House, and so forth. (1983), Representing and Intervening. (Kuhn thinks that clean views of history come from focusing too much on normal science.) 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. 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. Many thought that physics had become a disorganized patchwork of poorly understood theories, lacking coherence, unity, empirical determinacy, and adequate foundations. Critics complain that Cartwright confuses metaphysics and epistemology: even if we lack general laws of interaction, it does not follow that there are none. Though rejecting the positivists’ distinction between T-terms and O-terms, van Fraassen defends a distinction between observable and unobservable objects and properties, a distinction that grounds his policy of agnosticism concerning what science tells us about unobservables. Moreover, many realists argue, a theory is suitable for optimistic induction only if it has yielded novel predictions; otherwise it could just have been rigged to fit the phenomena. Van Fraassen’s is an antirealism concerning unobservable entities. Optimistic inductions (like the NMA) argue for SR (§5d): because past successful theories must have been approximately true, current more successful theories must be closer to the truth. (1991), “Empirical Equivalence and Underdetermination”, Journal of Philosophy 88 (9), 449-472. Like van Fraassen’s (§6), his instrumentalism is epistemic: it distinguishes claims we ought literally to believe from claims we ought only to accept as instrumentally reliable and argues that instrumental acceptance suffices to account for scientific practice. By contrast, “phlogiston” does not refer since nothing has the properties that the phlogiston theorists mistakenly believed to be responsible for the body of information they had about oxidation of metals, and so forth. 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. If all knowledge must be traced to the senses, how can we have reason to believe scientific theories, given that reality lies behind the appearances (hidden by a veil of perception)? Laudan, L. (1981), “A Confutation of Convergent Realism”, Philosophy of Science, 48, 19–48. Kitcher (1993) distinguishes a theory’s working and presuppositional posits. What they deny is a certain metaphysical interpretation of such claims—that electrons exist underlying and causing but completely transcending our experience. However, it runs into its own metaphysical problems, since it threatens to lose touch with concrete reality altogether. A range of arguments attempt to show that scientific realism is often supported by an implausible history of science. Field, H. (1972), “Tarski’s Theory of Truth”, Journal of Philosophy 64 (13), 347-375. Leeds, S. (1995), “Truth, Correspondence, and Success”, Philosophical Studies 79 (1), 1-36. For example, Hooke’s law, F = -ks describes a structure, the set of all pairs of reals in R2 such that y = -kx, which is distinct from any of its concrete exemplifications like the direct proportionality between the restoring force F for a stretched spring and its elongation s. If the world is a structured collection of objects (StR3), then StR1 says that science aims to describe only the structure of the objects but not their intrinsic natures. Critics argue that there is no sharp, epistemologically significant distinction between form (structure) and content (nature) of the kind needed for EStR. In the latter contexts, “light-wave” referred to the ether (that is, nothing), a mode of reference that was presupposed yet empty, idle, and not retained in later theories. We know that either string theory is true and the material universe is composed of tiny strings or this is not the case. Take, for example, Gauss’s supposed mountaintop triangulation experiment to test whether space is Euclidean (§2a). Putnam’s famous Twin Earth argument (Putnam 1975b) is intended to show that all classical theories fail because (1) and (2) are not co-tenable. The task of science is “to strip reality of the appearances covering it like a veil, in order to see the bare reality itself” (Duhem 1991). Second, they must respond to the trust argument. Putnam and Boyd were aware that care was needed with the NMA and sometimes restricted their claims to mature theories so that we discount ab initio some theories on Laudan’s troublesome list—like the theory of crystalline spheres or of humoral medicine. Friedman, M. (1999), Reconsidering Logical Positivism. [It is misleading, however, to call epistemological holism “the Quine-Duhem thesis”. Underlying ontology need not be (and is not) preserved in theory change, but the mathematical structure is both preserved and improved upon: Fresnel’s correct claims about the structure of light (as a wave phenomenon) were retained in later theories, while his incorrect claims about the nature of light (as a mechanical vibration in a mechanical medium, the ether) were later discarded. Similarly, the practice of conjoining auxiliary hypotheses with a theory to extend and test the theory cannot be accounted for by positivism. These two philosophical discussions have opposing opinions on how different annotations generated in science are practical to the world. To a first approximation, scientific realism is the view that well-confirmed scientific theories are approximately true; the entities they postulate do exist; and we have good reason to believe their main tenets. For example, Jupiter’s moons are observable because a human could travel close enough to see them unaided, but electrons are unobservable because a human could never see one (that is just the nature of humans and electrons). To be a realist position, EStR has to presuppose that, in addition to the structure of the phenomena whose objects are knowable, there is a mind-independent, knowable “underlying” structure, whose objects are unknowable. Though perhaps an advance, this does not provide us with a good reason to trust any particular part of our own theories, especially any particular assessment we make (from our vantage point) of the features of a past discarded theory that were responsible for its empirical success. The progress of science asymptotically converges on a true account. Thus, for example, Perrin’s experiments showed that the most likely cause of Brownian motion was molecular collisions with the Brownian particles; Rutherford’s experiments showed that the most likely cause of backward scattering of a-particles bombarded at gold foil were collisions with the nuclei of the gold atoms. But then we should expect our own theories to be right about some things and wrong about others. (1998), Studies in Scientific Realism. Suppose the year is 1740 when speakers did not know that water is H2O. (Two things about PUA are worth noting. JavaScript is disabled for your browser. Third, CE’s epistemic policy is pragmatically self-defeating or incoherent. (2) Scientific uses of IBE are grounded in, and are just sophisticated applications of, a principle we use in everyday inferential practice. Coulomb’s law, FC = kq1q2/r122, tells us what the electrostatic force between two charged bodies is. Carnap, R. (1936), “Testability and Meaning”, Philosophy of Science 3, 419-471. In quantum mechanics, for example, spin states of entangled particles are perfectly correlated, yet every reasonable explanation-candidate has failed, and scientists no longer insist that they must be explained, contrary to what realists allegedly require (Fine 1986). Realists tend to be optimistic; antirealists do not. An acceptable philosophy of science should be able to explain standard scientific practice and its instrumental success. Critics ask why any of these should divide the safe from the risky epistemic bet. This gives an intuitively plausible reading of the Twin-Earth scenario: Oscar is talking about water (H2O) and Twin-Oscar is talking about Twin-water (XYZ). Copyright © is held by the author. Why is it legitimate to infer from what we have observed in our spatiotemporally limited surroundings to everything observable but not to what is unobservable (though detectable with reliable instruments or calculable with reliable theories)? Email: [email protected] 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. Stanford, P.K. While truth-in-the-ideal-limit is an epistemic concept—it is relativized to what humans can know—it transcends any particular epistemic context; so we can have the best reasons to believe that Venus has CO2 in its atmosphere though it may be false (for it may turn out not to be assertible in the ideal theory). Russell, B. Moreover, the connection between empirical equivalence (agreement about observables in the sense of §6a) and evidential support is questionable (Laudan and Leplin 1991). If T and T’ are empirically equivalent, then any evidence E confirms/infirms T to degree n if and only if E confirms/infirms T’ to degree n. If (E confirms/infirms T to degree n if and only if E confirms/infirms T’ to degree n), then we have no reason to believe T rather than T’ or vice versa. Semantic, economic, empirical, and pragmatic considerations as a whole favor scientific realism over scientific antirealism, when realists believe that our best theories, successful theories that cohere with each other, are approximately true, and antirealists believe that they are approximately empirically adequate.
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