Robust realism for the life sciences

Synthese 196 (6):2341-2354 (2019)
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Although scientific realism is the default position in the life sciences, philosophical accounts of realism are geared towards physics and run into trouble when applied to fields such as biology or neuroscience. In this paper, I formulate a new robustness-based version of entity realism, and show that it provides a plausible account of realism for the life sciences that is also continuous with scientific practice. It is based on the idea that if there are several independent ways of measuring, detecting or deriving something, then we are justified in believing that it is real. I also consider several possible objections to robustness-based entity realism, discuss its relationship to ontic structural realism, and show how it has the potential to provide a novel response to the pessimistic induction argument.

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Markus Eronen
University of Groningen


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