Going local: a defense of methodological localism about scientific realism

Synthese 196 (2):587-609 (2019)
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Scientific realism and anti-realism are most frequently discussed as global theses: theses that apply equally well across the board to all the various sciences. Against this status quo I defend the localist alternative, a methodological stance on scientific realism that approaches debates on realism at the level of individual sciences, rather than at science itself. After identifying the localist view, I provide a number of arguments in its defense, drawing on the diversity and disunity found in the sciences, as well as problems with other approaches (such as basing realism debates on the aim of science). I also show how the view is already at work, explicitly or implicitly, in the work of several philosophers of science. After meeting the objections that localism collapses either into globalism or hyperlocalism, I conclude by sketching what sorts of impacts localism can have in the philosophy of science.
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