Chapter

Realism in Methodology

Ilkka Niiniluoto

in Critical Scientific Realism

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780199251612
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598098 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199251614.003.0006
 Realism in Methodology

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Methodological realism accepts the axiological view that truth is one of the essential aims of science. Following Popper and Levi, truthlikeness as the aim of science, combines the goals of truth and information. This chapter discusses the relations between truthlikeness and other epistemic utilities like explanatory power (Hempel), problem‐solving capacity (Laudan), and simplicity (Reichenbach). While rationality in science can be defined relative to the goals accepted within scientific communities at different times, a critical realist defines scientific progress in terms of increasing truthlikeness. It is argued that progress in this sense can be assessed, relative to empirical evidence, by the notion of expected verisimilitude. An abductive argument is formulated to defend realism as the best (and even the only) explanation of the empirical and practical success of science.

Keywords: abduction; axiology; epistemic utility; explanatory power; Hempel; Laudan; Levi; methodological realism; Popper; problem‐solving; progress; rationality; Reichenbach; simplicity; verisimilitude

Chapter.  20461 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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