From the Pessimistic Induction to Semantic Antirealism

Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1131-1142 (2011)
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The Pessimistic Induction (PI) states: most past scientific theories were radically mistaken; therefore, current theories are probably similarly mistaken. But mistaken in what way? On the usual understanding, such past theories are false. However, on widely held views about reference and presupposition, many theoretical claims of previous scientific theories are neither true nor false. And if substantial portions of past theories are truth-valueless, then the PI leads to semantic antirealism. But most current philosophers of science reject semantic antirealism. So PI proponents face a difficult choice: accept either semantic antirealism or an unorthodox position on reference and presupposition.



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Greg Frost-Arnold
Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Citations of this work

The History of Science as a Graveyard of Theories: A Philosophers’ Myth?Moti Mizrahi - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (3):263-278.
Pessimistic Inductions: Four Varieties.K. Brad Wray - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (1):61-73.
Historical Inductions: New Cherries, Same Old Cherry-picking.Moti Mizrahi - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (2):129-148.

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Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change.Joseph Laporte - 2005 - Philosophical Quarterly 55 (221):672-674.

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