Of Miracles and Mistaken Theories

in What Did the Romans Know?

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780226471143
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226471150 | DOI:
Of Miracles and Mistaken Theories

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This chapter presents an argument that realist claims in historical sources are much more difficult to cordon off than philosophers generally recognize. It argues that standard attempts by philosophers to cordon off the problems posed by such historical counterexamples fail, and they fail inescapably. It examines the miracle argument for realism. Both the inductive and the deductive readings of PI highlighted the number of times in the past that successful theories have been wrong. It is shown that the theory of the pulse by Galen is impressive. He thought his success was anything but trivial, showing by the degree of praise he claims his contemporaries showered on him and the scorn with which they treated his opponents. A description of curate's-egg realism is provided. Anjan Chakravartty turned to detection properties. The slipperiness of the phrase “minimal interpretation” was a concern about Chakravartty's position.

Keywords: realist claims; curate's-egg realism; PI; pulse; Galen; Anjan Chakravartty; detection properties

Chapter.  9924 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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