From Unobservable to Observable: Scientific Realism and the Discovery of Radium

Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 53 (4):307-321 (2022)
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I explore the process of changes in the observability of entities and objects in science and how such changes impact two key issues in the scientific realism debate: the claim that predictively successful elements of past science are retained in current scientific theories, and the inductive defense of a specific version of inference to the best explanation with respect to unobservables. I provide a case-study of the discovery of radium by Marie Curie in order to show that the observability of some entities can change and that such changes are relevant for arguments seeking to establish the reliability of success-to-truth inferences with respect to unobservables.

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Simon Allzén
University of Amsterdam


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