Chapter

 Science without Realism?

P. Kyle Stanford

in Exceeding Our Grasp

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174083
Published online May 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786367 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195174089.003.0008
  Science without Realism?

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This chapter addresses the question of whether there is any sense to be made of science without scientific realism. That is, it will try to identify whether there is any coherent positive view we might take of our successful scientific theories if we abandon the presumption that they must be approximately true descriptions of nature's innermost recesses and secret domains. A long and distinguished minority tradition has embraced a view entitled “instrumentalism,” which instead regards even our best scientific theories merely as effective tools or instruments for achieving our practical goals. It is argued that the problem of unconceived alternatives promises to breathe new life into this instrumentalist tradition: not into its discredited semantic theses, but into its positive conception of the status of scientific theories.

Keywords: scientific realism; scientific theory; instrumentalism; unconceived alternatives

Chapter.  13010 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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