Explanatory warrant for scientific realism

Synthese 161 (2):271 - 282 (2008)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Nancy Cartwright relies upon an inference pattern known as inference to the best causal explanation (IBCE) to support a limited form of entity realism, according to which we are warranted in believing in entities that purportively cause observable effects. IBCE, as usually understood, is valid, even though all other forms of inference to the best explanation (IBE) are usually understood to be invalid. We argue that IBCE and IBE are in the same boat with respect to their ability to support realist conclusions. Either rule can be interpreted as valid, this is a matter of semantic convention. However, doing so deprives the rule of the empirical content the realist needs, requiring the realist to find independent warrant for a strong (theoretical or causal) premise. We then examine the proposed means of obtaining this warrant, and find them as inadequate in the case of IBCE as they are in the case of IBE.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,122

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

202 (#94,123)

6 months
11 (#170,645)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

Causal Warrant for Realism about Particle Physics.Matthias Egg - 2012 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 43 (2):259-280.
Reality in Perspectives.Mahdi Khalili - 2022 - Dissertation, Vu University Amsterdam

Add more citations

References found in this work

How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Laws and symmetry.Bas C. van Fraassen - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Nature's capacities and their measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The aim and structure of physical theory.Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem - 1954 - Princeton,: Princeton University Press.

View all 13 references / Add more references