Sherri Roush () and I (, ) have each argued independently that the most significant challenge to scientific realism arises from our inability to consider the full range of serious alternatives to a given hypothesis we seek to test, but we diverge significantly concerning the range of cases in which this problem becomes acute. Here I argue against Roush's further suggestion that the atomic hypothesis represents a case in which scientific ingenuity has enabled us to overcome the problem, showing how her general strategy is undermined by evidence I have already offered in support of what I have called the ‘problem of unconceived alternatives’. I then go on to show why her strategy will not generally (if ever) allow us to formulate and test exhaustive spaces of hypotheses in cases of fundamental scientific theorizing.
Roush, Stanford, and Unconceived Alternatives
Perrin and Brownian Motion
Retention and Possible Alternatives: New Lessons from Some Familiar History
Journal Article. 7567 words.
Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics
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