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Elsamahi, Mohamed, and . A ctitique of localized realism

2005, Philosophy of Science 72(5): 1350-1360.

Abstract: In an attempt to avert Laudan’s pessimistic induction, Worrall and Psillos introduce a narrower version of scientific realism. According to this version, which can be referred to as “localized realism”, realists need not accept every component in a successful theory. They are supposed only to accept those components that led to the theory’s empirical success. Consequently, realists can avoid believing in dubious entities like the caloric and ether. This paper examines and critiques localized realism. It also scrutinizes Psillos’s historical study of the caloric theory of heat, which is intended to support localized realism.

Comment: Recommended as further reading for studying scientific realism and anti-realism. Preferable for postgraduate students since previous knowledge of theories in science helps to a better understanding of this article.

Massimi, Michela, and . Saving Unobservable Phenomena

2007, British Journal of Philosophy of Science 58(2): 235-262.

Abstract: In this paper the author argues -against van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism-that the practice of saving phenomena is much broader than usually thought, and includes unobservable phenomena as well as observable ones. Her argument turns on the distinction between data and phenomena: She discusses how unobservable phenomena manifest themselves in data models and how theoretical models able to save them are chosen. She presents a paradigmatic case study taken from the history of particle physics to illustrate her argument. The first aim of this paper is to draw attention to the experimental practice of saving unobservable phenomena, which philosophers have overlooked for too long. The second aim is to explore some far-reaching implications this practice may have for the debate on scientific realism and constructive empiricism.

Comment: This article is appropriate for studying the relationship between theoretical models and data models, as well as the scientific practice of saving unobservable phenomena. For a better understanding of this article, it could be really useful to have a previous basic knowledge on Bas van Fraassen's constructive empiricism. The article is appropriate for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science. It is especially interesting for those interested in theoretical models in particle physics.

McGowan, M.K, and . The Metaphysics of Squaring Scientific Realism with Referential Indeterminacy

1999, Erkenntnis 50(1): 87-94.

Introduction: Scientific realism and the claim that there is radical referential indeterminacy are important and compelling philosophical theses. Each thesis has advocates and for good reason. On cursory examination, however, it seems that these theses are at odds with one another. It seems that one cannot both claim that science seeks to describe an objective reality and yet deny that reality is objectively structured in such a way as to determine the referents of our terms. Since there are compelling reasons in favour of each thesis and since it appears that some philosophers actually advocate both theses (Quine himself may be one such example), finding a way to square the theses would be multiply advantageous. On this paper, the author argues that despite the prima facie tension between them, these theses are indeed cotenable.

Comment: Interesting paper that lies on the intersection between philosophy of science and philosophy of language. It could be used as a secondary reading for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science, in particular for lectures on the topic of scientific realism. The level of difficulty is not high, but it is more recommendable for students who have been introduced before to concepts such as realism, subjective supervientism and referential indeterminacy.