Springer International Publishing (2021)

Quentin Ruyant
Complutense University of Madrid
This book proposes a novel position in the debate on scientific realism: Modal Empiricism. Modal empiricism is the view that the aim of science is to provide theories that correctly delimit, in a unified way, the range of experiences that are naturally possible given our position in the world. The view is associated with a pragmatic account of scientific representation and an original notion of situated modalities, together with an inductive epistemology for modalities. It purports to provide a faithful account of scientific practice and of its impressive achievements, and defuses the main motivations for scientific realism. More generally, Modal Empiricism purports to be the precise articulation of a pragmatist stance towards science. This book is of interest to any philosopher involved in the debate on scientific realism, or interested in how to properly understand the content, aim and achievements of science.
Keywords empiricism  natural modalities  pragmatism  scientific realism  scientific representation  induction  semantic realism
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ISBN(s) 3030723488   9783030723484
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Chapters BETA
Theories, Models and Representation

Before discussing what the aim of science could be and whether it is achievable, it is important to be clear on what scientific theories are and how they are used to represent the world. This chapter proposes a synthesis of the literature on the subject, in particular the motivations for model-based... see more

Semantic Pragmatism

Modal empiricism can simultaneously provide a faithful picture of the functioning of science and respond to the epistemic challenges of the debate on scientific realism. If we accept it, why maintain a gap between our semantic theories concerning the content of scientific theories and what we take t... see more

Situated Possibilities, Induction and Necessity

Modal empiricism is the position according to which the aim of science is to produce theories that correctly account for all possible manipulations and observations we could make in their domain of application in a unified way. This chapter analyses the kind of modalities to which modal empiricism i... see more

Modal Empirical Adequacy

Empirical adequacy, taken to be an ideal aim for theories, is undoubtedly an important notion for understanding scientific practice, and indeed the most important notion for an empiricist. This chapter examines empirical adequacy from the perspective of the account of scientific representation devel... see more

Contextual Use and Communal Norms

This chapter presents the conception of scientific representation and theories used in this book. Its aim is to clearly articulate the contextual aspects of representational uses and the unificatory power of scientific theories. This is done by means of a two-stage account of representation. The fir... see more

Scientific Success

One of the main motivations for scientific realism is that it would explain the “miraculous success” of science, in particular the successful extension of theories to new domains of experience. After recalling the reasons to doubt the validity of the realist strategy, and in particular, the idea tha... see more

The Debates on Scientific Realism

The debate on scientific realism results from a tension between the empiricist methodology, which is a defining feature of science, and claims to the effect that science can unveil the fundamental nature of reality. What distinguishes realist and anti-realist positions is not necessarily that the fo... see more

Theory Change

The induction on models presented in the previous chapter brings modal empiricism close to structural realism in some respects. In this chapter, I examine the differences between the two. I review the main motivation for structural realism, which is to account for a continuity in theory change, and ... see more

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