Scientific Knowledge

Philip Kitcher

in The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195130058
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833481 | DOI:
Scientific Knowledge

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In “Scientific Knowledge,” Philip Kitcher challenges arguments that deny the truth of the theoretical claims of science, and he attempts to discover reasons for endorsing the truth of such claims. He suggests that the discovery of such reasons might succeed if we ask why anyone thinks that the theoretical claims we accept are true and then look for answers that reconstruct actual belief‐generating processes. To this end, Kitcher presents the “homely argument” for scientific truth, which claims that when a field of science is continually applied to yield precise predictions, then it is at least approximately true. He defends this approach and offers a supplementary account that gives more attention to detail. This account includes a historical aspect (a dependence on the previous conclusions of scientists) that must answer to skeptical challenges and a social aspect (the coordination of individuals in pursuit of specific knowledge‐related goals).

Keywords: Bayesianism; confirmation theory; science; Philip Kitcher; scientific knowledge; scientific truth; theoretical claim

Chapter.  10611 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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