Scientific Realism, Adaptationism and the Problem of the Criterion

Kairos 13 (1):7-45 (2015)
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Scientific Realism (SR) has three crucial aspects: 1) the centrality of the concept of truth, 2) the idea that success is a reliable indicator of truth, and 3) the idea that the Inference to the Best Explanation is a reliable inference rule. It will be outlined how some realists try to overcome the difficulties which arise in justifying such crucial aspects relying on an adaptationist view of evolutionism, and why such attempts are inadequate. Finally, we will briefly sketch some of the main difficulties the realist has to face in defending those crucial aspects, and how such difficulties are deeply related: they derive from the inability of SR to satisfyingly avoid the sceptical challenge of the criterion of truth. Indeed, SR seems not to be able to fill the so-called ‘epistemic gap’ (Sankey 2008). In fact, the epistemic gap cannot be filled in no way other than obtaining a criterion of truth, but such a criterion cannot be obtained if the epistemic gap obtains.

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Fabio Sterpetti
Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza


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