Scientific Realism in the Wild: An Empirical Study of Seven Sciences and HPS

Philosophy of Science (forthcoming)
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Abstract
We report the results of a study that investigated the views of researchers working in seven scientific disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology, economics, psychology, sociology, and anthropology) and in HPS (N = 1,798) in regard to four hypothesized dimensions of scientific realism. Among other things, we found (i) that natural scientists tended to express more strongly realist views than social scientists, (ii) that social scientists working in fields where quantitative methods predominate tended to express more strongly realist views than social scientists working in fields where qualitative methods are more common, (iii) that HPS scholars tended to express more anti-realist views than natural scientists, aligning themselves with social scientists working in fields where qualitative methods are more common, (iv) that van Fraassen’s characterization of scientific realism failed to cluster with more standard characterizations, (v) that a van Fraassen-style anti-realism is significantly more popular among scientists and HPS scholars than more standard forms of anti-realism, and (vi) that while those who endorsed the No-Miracles Argument were more likely to endorse scientific realism, those who endorsed the Pessimistic Induction were no more or less likely to endorse anti-realism.
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Archival date: 2019-06-11
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