Reconsidering the Fresnel–Maxwell theory shift: how the realist can have her cake and EAT it too

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (3):509-538 (2005)
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Abstract

This paper takes another look at a case study which has featured prominently in a variety of arguments for rival realist positions. After critically reviewing the previous commentaries of the theory shift that took place in the transition from Fresnel’s ether to Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory of optics, it will defend a slightly different reading of this historical case study. Central to this task is the notion of explanatory approximate truth, a concept which must be carefully analysed to begin with. With this notion properly understood, it will be finally argued, the popular Fresnel-Maxwell case study points towards a novel formulation of scientific realism.

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Juha Saatsi
University of Leeds

Citations of this work

Scientific Realism.Richard Boyd - 1984 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 21 (1&2):767-791.
Scientific Realism.Anjan Chakravartty - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
A Confrontation of Convergent Realism.Peter Vickers - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (2):189-211.

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References found in this work

A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (1):19-49.
Mental Causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 1980 - In Yuri Balashov & Alexander Rosenberg (eds.), Philosophy of Science: Contemporary Readings. Routledge. pp. 211.

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