Scientific Realism

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 21 (1&2):767-791 (1984)
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Abstract

(i) Scientific realism is primarily a metaphysical doctrine about the existence and nature of the unobservables of science. (ii) There are good explanationist arguments for realism, most famously that from the success of science, provided abduction is allowed. Abduction seems to be on an equal footing, at least, with other ampliative methods of inference. (iii) We have no reason to believe a doctrine of empirical equivalence that would sustain the underdetermination argument against realism. (iv) The key to defending realism from the pessimistic meta-induction is that we have greatly improved our capacity to understand the unobservable world over recent centuries.

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