Journal Article

Realism and the Strong Program

Tim Lewens

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 56, issue 3, pages 559-577
Published in print September 2005 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online July 2005 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Realism and the Strong Program

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The four tenets of the Strong Program are compatible with a scientific realism founded on an externalist epistemology. Such an epistemology allows that appropriate norms of rationality may differ from time to time, and from community to community, and thereby enables the realist to embrace strong forms of the ‘symmetry principle’. It also suggests a fruitful collaborative research program in externalist social epistemology. Some of what the Edinburgh School says about truth can also be accepted. But the realist should reject the School's argument for the claim that there is no distinction between being rational and being locally accepted as rational, which seems to rest on a kind of epistemological internalism.

Introducing the Strong Program

Realism and the four tenets

A stronger reading of symmetry

Conflict and cooperation

A note on discovery and justification

Relativism and realism


Points of contention: the restriction of explanatory contrasts

Points of contention: standards of rationality

Journal Article.  8724 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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