An Examination of Some Aspects of Howard Stein's Work

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Some understand Stein’s “Yes, but…” as an entry in the realism—instrumentalism debate (RID) itself, albeit one dissatisfied with then-extant positions. In this paper, however, I argue the opposite: Stein’s conception of science and his approach to its history and philosophy actually preclude the RID. First, I characterize Stein as persistently attending to his own historical and philosophical methods. I then describe his conception of science as both a dialectic and an enterprise, and I draw from this conception several conclusions about the relations between science and its history and philosophy. Finally, I provide a reading of “Yes, but…” that follows from Stein’s conception of science. On this reading, the RID is either irrelevant to or wrong of science and, moreover, distracts from a legitimate inquiry. I conclude by interpreting Stein’s remark that there is ``no difference that makes a difference’’ between a cogent and enlightened realism and a sophisticated instrumentalism.
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