What Elements of Successful Scientific Theories Are the Correct Targets for “Selective” Scientific Realism?

Philosophy of Science 81 (3):377-397 (2014)
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Selective scientific realists disagree on which theoretical posits should be regarded as essential to the empirical success of a scientific theory. A satisfactory account of essentialness will show that the (approximate) truth of the selected posits adequately explains the success of the theory. Therefore, (a) the essential elements must be discernible prospectively; (b) there cannot be a priori criteria regarding which type of posit is essential; and (c) the overall success of a theory, or ‘cluster’ of propositions, not only individual derivations, should be explicable. Given these desiderata, I propose a “unification criterion” for identifying essential elements
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Scientific Realism.Lyons, Timothy D.

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