Journal Article

Fertility and Scientific Realism

Robert Segall

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 59, issue 2, pages 237-246
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 2008 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axn011
Fertility and Scientific Realism

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It has been claimed that modern long-standing scientific theories are fertile, in the sense of having been progressively successfully modified to meet new experimental observations or theoretical developments in related areas, and that these modifications arise naturally from each preceding version of the theory. McMullin has advanced this form of fertility as a vindication of scientific realism, since if the theories did not approximate the real, the observation would be inexplicable. In response Nolan has denied the existence of fertility in this sense as an independent virtue. The present paper argues that the rebuttal is flawed.

Introduction

McMullin's P-fertility

Fertility Explained Away as Novel Prediction

Conclusion

Journal Article.  3763 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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