Internal Realism and the Objectivity of Scientific Knowledge

Analytica 5:1-35 (2011)
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Abstract
Arguments pro and contra convergent realism – underdetermination of theory by observational evidence and pessimistic meta-induction from past falsity – are considered. It is argued that, to meet the counter-arguments challenge, convergent realism should be considerably changed with a help of modification of the propositions from this meta-programme “hard core” or “protecting belt”. Two well-known convergent realism rivals – “entity realism” of Nancy Cartwright and Ian Hacking and John Worrall’s “structural realism” – are considered. Entity realism’s main drawback is fundamental laws underestimation. As for structural realism, its limitation of theoretical propositions by pure structural ones is ineffective. One always can transform propositions about objects into propositions about structures and vice versa. Both conceptions are kinds of “metaphysical revisionism” that tries to reformulate the good old convergent realism propositions using more decent language and applying ad hoc modifications of the solutions first obtained within the anti-realist epistemological meta-programmes. It is stated that to overcome the troubles of convergent realism one has to turn from classical or “metaphysical” realism to nonclassical or “internal” one and to coherent theory of truth. Internal realism has no troubles in solving the problem of empirically-equivalent theoretical descriptions and historical meta-induction problem, but gets the problem of scientific knowledge objectivity instead. Where does this objectivity come from? One of the answers is proposed by the scientific knowledge growth model elaborated by Rinat Nugayev and by Peter Galison. Each paradigm is a local viewpoint determined by the peculiarities of a culture into which its creator . was submerged. However, the meeting of the different paradigms leads to their interaction; as a result, the crossbred theoretical objects are constructed. Through these systems the infiltration of one paradigm on the other’s domain takes place. After the old paradigms’ grinding the new ones emerge that reconcile to each other much better than the old ones. Scientific theories reconcile results in elimination of many contingent details. In the process of competition more universal components survive. It is demonstrated that the process of objective knowledge genesis takes place in modern superstring theory too. The list of its drawbacks is rather long; it is clear that the theory cannot pretend on the role of the Theory of Everything. Nevertheless the process of argumentation pro and contra convergent realism – underdetermination of theory by observational evidence and pessimistic meta-induction from past falsity – are considered. It is argued that, to meet the counter-arguments challenge, convergent realism should be considerably changed with a help of modification of the propositions from this meta-programme “hard core” or “protecting belt”. It is stated that to overcome the troubles of convergent realism one has to turn from classical or “metaphysic” of quantum field theory and general relativity interpenetration have already begun.
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