How to be a Historically Motivated Anti-Realist: The Problem of Misleading Evidence

Philosophy of Science 86 (5):906-917 (2019)
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Abstract

The Pessimistic Induction over the history of science argues that because most past theories considered empirically successful in their time turn out to be not even approximately true, most present ones probably aren’t approximately true either. But why did past scientists accept those incorrect theories? Kyle Stanford’s ‘Problem of Unconceived Alternatives’ is one answer to that question: scientists are bad at exhausting the space of plausible hypotheses to explain the evidence available to them. Here, I offer another answer, which I call the ‘Problem of Misleading Evidence.’ I argue that this proposal is, in important respects, superior to Stanford’s.

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Greg Frost-Arnold
Hobart and William Smith Colleges

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