In Defense of Realism and Selectivism from Lyons’s Objections

Foundations of Science 24 (4):605-615 (2019)
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Abstract
Lyons (2016, 2017, 2018) formulates Laudan’s (1981) historical objection to scientific realism as a modus tollens. I present a better formulation of Laudan’s objection, and then argue that Lyons’s formulation is supererogatory. Lyons rejects scientific realism (Putnam, 1975) on the grounds that some successful past theories were (completely) false. I reply that scientific realism is not the categorical hypothesis that all successful scientific theories are (approximately) true, but rather the statistical hypothesis that most successful scientific theories are (approximately) true. Lyons rejects selectivism (Kitcher, 1993; Psillos, 1999) on the grounds that some working assumptions were (completely) false in the history of science. I reply that selectivists would say not that all working assumptions are (approximately) true, but rather that most working assumptions are (approximately) true.
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Archival date: 2019-07-10
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