Structural realism versus deployment realism: A comparative evaluation

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
In this paper I challenge and adjudicate between the two positions that have come to prominence in the scientific realism debate: deployment realism and structural realism. I discuss a set of cases from the history of celestial mechanics, including some of the most important successes in the history of science. To the surprise of the deployment realist, these are novel predictive successes toward which theoretical constituents that are now seen to be patently false were genuinely deployed. Exploring the implications for structural realism, I show that the need to accommodate these cases forces our notion of “structure” toward a dramatic depletion of logical content, threatening to render it explanatorily vacuous: the better structuralism fares against these historical examples, in terms of retention, the worse it fares in content and explanatory strength. I conclude by considering recent restrictions that serve to make “structure” more specific. I show however that these refinements will not suffice: the better structuralism fares in specificity and explanatory strength, the worse it fares against history. In light of these case studies, both deployment realism and structural realism are significantly threatened by the very historical challenge they were introduced to answer.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
LYOSRV
Revision history
Archival date: 2017-08-17
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2017-07-11

Total views
215 ( #16,607 of 43,895 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
70 ( #8,978 of 43,895 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.