Historical Inductions: New Cherries, Same Old Cherry-picking

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (2):129-148 (2015)
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Abstract

In this article, I argue that arguments from the history of science against scientific realism, like the arguments advanced by P. Kyle Stanford and Peter Vickers, are fallacious. The so-called Old Induction, like Vickers's, and New Induction, like Stanford's, are both guilty of confirmation bias—specifically, of cherry-picking evidence that allegedly challenges scientific realism while ignoring evidence to the contrary. I also show that the historical episodes that Stanford adduces in support of his New Induction are indeterminate between a pessimistic and an optimistic interpretation. For these reasons, these arguments are fallacious, and thus do not pose a serious challenge to scientific realism

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Moti Mizrahi
Florida Institute of Technology

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