On Treating Past and Present Scientific Theories Differently

Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):63-76 (2017)
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Scientific realists argue that present theories are more successful than past theories, so present theories will not be superseded by alternatives, even though past theories were superseded by alternatives. Alai (2016) objects that although present theories are more successful than past theories, they will be replaced by future theories, just as past theories were replaced by present theories. He contends, however, that past theories were partly true, and that present theories are largely true. I argue that Alai’s discrimination between past and present theories is subject to his own criticism against realists’ discriminations between past and present theories, and also subject to other criticisms that philosophers have raised against scientific realism and pessimism.
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