The Realism/Antirealism Debate in the Philosophy of Science

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2002
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Dudau, Radu
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Die Realismus/Antirealismus-Debatte in der Wissenschaftsphilosophie
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Zusammenfassung

This is a defense of the doctrine of scientific realism (SR). SR is defined through
the following two claims:
(i) Most essential unobservables posited by the well-established current scientific
theories exist independently of our minds.
(ii) We know our well-established scientific theories to be approximately true.

I first offer positive argumentation for SR. I begin with the
so-called 'success arguments' for SR: 1) scientific
theories most of the times entail successful predictions; 2) science is
methodologically successful in generating empirically successful theories.
SR explains these facts via inference to the best explanation (IBE).

I combine Hacking's experimental argument for entity realism with
Salmon's common-cause principle. I take entity realism to be foundational
to SR: one may believe in the existence
of some theoretical entities without believing in any particular theory in which these are
embedded. Its motivation comes from experimental practice, where the manipulation of
these entities often relies on incompatible theoretical accounts.

The underdetermination (UD) topic is thereafter discussed. Several attempts to
distinguish between an observable and an unobservable realm are critically discussed,
as well as the possibility that for any given theory, there are
empirically equivalents generated by means of algorithms. I present
extensive argumentation to the effect that such algorithmic rivals are not to be taken
seriously.

Social constructivism (SC) is being critically treated. I proceed by distinguishing between
a metaphysical, a semantic, and an epistemic variant of SC. I conclude that only a
moderate metaphysical constructivism can stand on its own feet. Its claim
is merely that some facts about the world are socially constructed.

I finish with a plea for a selective SR, able to do justice to the presence
of both instrumentalism and modest constructivism in scientific practice.

Zusammenfassung in einer weiteren Sprache
Fachgebiet (DDC)
100 Philosophie
Schlagwörter
Wissenschaftlicher Realismus, Realism, Antirealism, Scientific Realism
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ISO 690DUDAU, Radu, 2002. The Realism/Antirealism Debate in the Philosophy of Science [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz
BibTex
@phdthesis{Dudau2002Reali-3466,
  year={2002},
  title={The Realism/Antirealism Debate in the Philosophy of Science},
  author={Dudau, Radu},
  address={Konstanz},
  school={Universität Konstanz}
}
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    <dcterms:abstract xml:lang="eng">This is a defense of the doctrine of scientific realism (SR). SR is defined through&lt;br /&gt;the following two claims:&lt;br /&gt;(i) Most essential unobservables  posited by the well-established current scientific&lt;br /&gt;theories exist independently of our minds.&lt;br /&gt;(ii) We know our well-established scientific theories to be approximately true.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I first offer positive argumentation for SR. I begin with the&lt;br /&gt;so-called 'success arguments' for SR: 1) scientific&lt;br /&gt;theories most of the times entail successful predictions; 2) science is&lt;br /&gt;methodologically successful in generating empirically successful theories.&lt;br /&gt;SR explains these facts via inference to the best explanation (IBE).&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I combine Hacking's experimental argument for entity realism with&lt;br /&gt;Salmon's  common-cause principle. I take entity realism to be foundational&lt;br /&gt;to SR: one may believe in the existence&lt;br /&gt;of some theoretical entities without believing in any particular theory in which these are&lt;br /&gt;embedded. Its motivation comes from experimental practice, where the manipulation of&lt;br /&gt;these entities often relies on incompatible theoretical accounts.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The underdetermination (UD) topic is thereafter discussed. Several attempts to&lt;br /&gt;distinguish  between an observable and an unobservable realm are critically discussed,&lt;br /&gt;as well as the possibility that for any given theory, there are&lt;br /&gt;empirically equivalents generated by means of algorithms.  I present&lt;br /&gt;extensive argumentation to the effect that such algorithmic rivals are not to be taken&lt;br /&gt;seriously.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Social constructivism (SC) is being critically treated. I proceed by distinguishing between&lt;br /&gt;a metaphysical, a semantic, and an epistemic variant of SC. I conclude that only a&lt;br /&gt;moderate metaphysical constructivism can stand on its own feet. Its claim&lt;br /&gt;is merely that some facts about the world are socially constructed.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I finish with a plea for a selective SR, able to do justice to the presence&lt;br /&gt;of both instrumentalism and modest constructivism in scientific practice.</dcterms:abstract>
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July 23, 2002
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