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  1. Incompatibility and the Pessimistic Induction: A Challenge for Selective Realism.Florian J. Boge - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-31.
    Two powerful arguments have famously dominated the realism debate in philosophy of science: The No Miracles Argument and the Pessimistic Meta-Induction. A standard response to the PMI is selective scientific realism, wherein only the working posits of a theory are considered worthy of doxastic commitment. Building on the recent debate over the NMA and the connections between the NMA and the PMI, I here consider a stronger inductive argument that poses a direct challenge for SSR: Because it is sometimes exactly (...)
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  • On Mizrahi’s Argument Against Stanford’s Instrumentalism.Fabio Sterpetti - 2019 - Axiomathes 29 (2):103-125.
    Mizrahi’s argument against Stanford’s challenge to scientific realism is analyzed. Mizrahi’s argument is worth of attention for at least two reasons: unlike other criticisms that have been made to Stanford’s view so far, Mizrahi’s argument does not question any specific claim of Stanford’s argument, rather it puts into question the very coherence of Stanford’s position, because it argues that since Stanford’s argument rests on the problem of the unconceived alternatives, Stanford’s argument is self-defeating. Thus, if Mizrahi’s argument is effective in (...)
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  • Historical Inductions: New Cherries, Same Old Cherry-Picking.Moti Mizrahi - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (2):129-148.
    In this article, I argue that arguments from the history of science against scientific realism, like the arguments advanced by P. Kyle Stanford and Peter Vickers, are fallacious. The so-called Old Induction, like Vickers's, and New Induction, like Stanford's, are both guilty of confirmation bias—specifically, of cherry-picking evidence that allegedly challenges scientific realism while ignoring evidence to the contrary. I also show that the historical episodes that Stanford adduces in support of his New Induction are indeterminate between a pessimistic and (...)
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  • Peirce: Underdetermination, Agnosticism, and Related Mistakes.P. D. Magnus - 2005 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 48 (1):26 – 37.
    There are two ways that we might respond to the underdetermination of theory by data. One response, which we can call the agnostic response, is to suspend judgment: "Where scientific standards cannot guide us, we should believe nothing". Another response, which we can call the fideist response, is to believe whatever we would like to believe: "If science cannot speak to the question, then we may believe anything without science ever contradicting us". C.S. Peirce recognized these options and suggested evading (...)
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  • Global and Local Pessimistic Meta-Inductions.Samuel Ruhmkorff - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (4):409-428.
    The global pessimistic meta-induction argues from the falsity of scientific theories accepted in the past to the likely falsity of currently accepted scientific theories. I contend that this argument commits a statistical error previously unmentioned in the literature and is self-undermining. I then compare the global pessimistic meta-induction to a local pessimistic meta-induction based on recent negative assessments of the reliability of medical research. If there is any future in drawing pessimistic conclusions from the history of science, it lies in (...)
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  • What Can Artificial Intelligence Do for Scientific Realism?Petr Spelda & Vit Stritecky - 2020 - Axiomathes 31 (1):85-104.
    The paper proposes a synthesis between human scientists and artificial representation learning models as a way of augmenting epistemic warrants of realist theories against various anti-realist attempts. Towards this end, the paper fleshes out unconceived alternatives not as a critique of scientific realism but rather a reinforcement, as it rejects the retrospective interpretations of scientific progress, which brought about the problem of alternatives in the first place. By utilising adversarial machine learning, the synthesis explores possibility spaces of available evidence for (...)
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  • The Pursuit of Knowledge and the Problem of the Unconceived Alternatives.Fabio Sterpetti & Marta Bertolaso - 2020 - Topoi 39 (4):881-892.
    In the process of scientific discovery, knowledge ampliation is pursued by means of non-deductive inferences. When ampliative reasoning is performed, probabilities cannot be assigned objectively. One of the reasons is that we face the problem of the unconceived alternatives: we are unable to explore the space of all the possible alternatives to a given hypothesis, because we do not know how this space is shaped. So, if we want to adequately account for the process of knowledge ampliation, we need to (...)
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  • Should a Historically Motivated Anti-Realist Be a Stanfordite?Greg Frost-Arnold - 2019 - Synthese 196:535-551.
    Suppose one believes that the historical record of discarded scientific theories provides good evidence against scientific realism. Should one adopt Kyle Stanford’s specific version of this view, based on the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives? I present reasons for answering this question in the negative. In particular, Stanford’s challenge cannot use many of the prima facie strongest pieces of historical evidence against realism, namely: superseded theories whose successors were explicitly conceived, and superseded theories that were not the result of elimination-of-alternatives inferences. (...)
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  • Towards a Realistic Success-to-Truth Inference for Scientific Realism.Peter Vickers - 2019 - Synthese 196 (2):571-585.
    A success-to-truth inference has always been at the heart of scientific realist positions. But all attempts to articulate the inference have met with very significant challenges. This paper reconstructs the evolution of this inference, and brings together a number of qualifications in an attempt to articulate a contemporary success-to-truth inference which is realistic. I argue that this contemporary version of the inference has a chance, at least, of overcoming the historical challenges which have been proffered to date. However, there is (...)
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  • The Problem of Unconceived Objections.Moti Mizrahi - 2014 - Argumentation 28 (4):425-436.
    In this paper, I argue that, just as the problem of unconceived alternatives provides a basis for a New Induction on the History of Science to the effect that a realist view of science is unwarranted, the problem of unconceived objections provides a basis for a New Induction on the History of Philosophy to the effect that a realist view of philosophy is unwarranted. I raise this problem not only for skepticism’s sake but also for the sake of making a (...)
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  • Scientific Realism.Richard Boyd - 1984 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 21 (1&2):767-791.
    (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 (...)
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  • Expanding Our Grasp: Causal Knowledge and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives.Matthias Egg - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (1):115-141.
    I argue that scientific realism, insofar as it is only committed to those scientific posits of which we have causal knowledge, is immune to Kyle Stanford’s argument from unconceived alternatives. This causal strategy is shown not to repeat the shortcomings of previous realist responses to Stanford’s argument. Furthermore, I show that the notion of causal knowledge underlying it can be made sufficiently precise by means of conceptual tools recently introduced into the debate on scientific realism. Finally, I apply this strategy (...)
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  • Reactionary Responses to the Bad Lot Objection.Finnur Dellsén - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 61:32-40.
    As it is standardly conceived, Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) is a form of ampliative inference in which one infers a hypothesis because it provides a better potential explanation of one’s evidence than any other available, competing explanatory hypothesis. Bas van Fraassen famously objected to IBE thus formulated that we may have no reason to think that any of the available, competing explanatory hypotheses are true. While revisionary responses to the Bad Lot Objection concede that IBE needs to be (...)
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  • Realism and the Absence of Rivals.Finnur Dellsén - 2017 - Synthese 194 (7):2427-2446.
    Among the most serious challenges to scientific realism are arguments for the underdetermination of theory by evidence. This paper defends a version of scientific realism against what is perhaps the most influential recent argument of this sort, viz. Kyle Stanford’s New Induction over the History of Science. An essential part of the defense consists in a probabilistic analysis of the slogan “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. On this basis it is argued that the likelihood of a theory (...)
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  • Historical Inductions, Old and New.Juha Saatsi - 2015 - Synthese:1-15.
    I review prominent historical arguments against scientific realism to indicate how they display a systematic overshooting in the conclusions drawn from the historical evidence. The root of the overshooting can be located in some critical, undue presuppositions regarding realism. I will highlight these presuppositions in connection with both Laudan’s ‘Old induction’ and Stanford’s New induction, and then delineate a minimal realist view that does without the problematic presuppositions.
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  • What SPECIES Can Teach Us About THEORY.P. D. Magnus - manuscript
    This paper argues against the common, often implicit view that theories are some specific kind of thing. Instead, I argue for theory concept pluralism: There are multiple distinct theory concepts which we legitimately use in different domains and for different purposes, and we should not expect this to change. The argument goes by analogy with species concept pluralism, a familiar position in philosophy of biology. I conclude by considering some consequences for philosophy of science if theory concept pluralism is correct.
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  • Historical Inductions, Unconceived Alternatives, and Unconceived Objections.Moti Mizrahi - 2016 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 47 (1):59-68.
    In this paper, I outline a reductio against Stanford’s “New Induction” on the History of Science, which is an inductive argument against scientific realism that is based on what Stanford (2006) calls “the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives” (PUA). From the supposition that Stanford’s New Induction on the History of Science is cogent, and the parallel New Induction on the History of Philosophy (Mizrahi 2014), it follows that scientific antirealism is not worthy of belief. I also show that denying a key (...)
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  • An Absurd Consequence of Stanford’s New Induction Over the History of Science: A Reply to Sterpetti.Moti Mizrahi - 2019 - Axiomathes 29 (5):515-527.
    In this paper, I respond to Sterpetti’s attempt to defend Kyle P. Stanford’s Problem of Unconceived Alternatives and his New Induction over the History of Science from my reductio argument outlined in Mizrahi :59–68, 2016a). I discuss what I take to be the ways in which Sterpetti has misconstrued my argument against Stanford’s NIS, in particular, that it is a reductio, not a dilemma, as Sterpetti erroneously thinks. I argue that antirealists who endorse Stanford’s NIS still face an absurd consequence (...)
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  • Scientific Realism.Anjan Chakravartty - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Debates about scientific realism are closely connected to almost everything else in the philosophy of science, for they concern the very nature of scientific knowledge. Scientific realism is a positive epistemic attitude toward the content of our best theories and models, recommending belief in both observable and unobservable aspects of the world described by the sciences. This epistemic attitude has important metaphysical and semantic dimensions, and these various commitments are contested by a number of rival epistemologies of science, known collectively (...)
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  • Underdetermination in Science: What It Is and Why We Should Care.Margaret Greta Turnbull - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (2):e12475.
    The underdetermination of scientific theory choice by evidence is a familiar but multifaceted concept in the philosophy of science. I answer two pressing questions about underdetermination: “What is underdetermination?” and “Why should we care about underdetermination?” To answer the first question, I provide a general definition of underdetermination, identify four forms of underdetermination, and discuss major criticisms of each form. To answer the second question, I then survey two common uses of underdetermination in broader arguments against scientific realism and in (...)
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