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Chakravartty, Anjan, , . Introduction: Ancient Skepticism, Voluntarism, and Science
2015, International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 5 (2):73-79
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Matthew Watts

Abstract: In this introduction, I motivate the project of examining certain resonances between ancient skeptical positions, especially Pyrrhonism, and positions in contemporary epistemology, with special attention to recent work in the epistemology of science. One such resonance concerns the idea of suspension of judgment or belief in certain contexts or domains of inquiry, and the reasons for (or processes eventuating in) suspension. Another concerns the question of whether suspension of belief in such circumstances is voluntary, in any of the senses discussed in current work on voluntarism in epistemology, which informs recent discussions of how voluntarism regarding epistemic stances may shed light on positions like scientific realism and antirealism. The aim of this special issue is thus to explore certain analogies and disanalogies between ancient and contemporary debates about skepticism, and to consider whether and to what extent the former can provide insight into the latter.

Comment: This text offers motivation for examining ancient skeptical positions in relation to contemporary epistemology, especially epistemology of science.

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Chakravartty, Anjan, , . Realist Representations of Particles: The Standard Model, Top-Down and Bottom-Up
2019, In Contemporary Scientific Realism and the Challenge from the History of Science
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Matthew Watts

Introduction: Much debate about scientific realism concerns the issue of whether it is compatible with theory change over time. Certain forms of ‘selective realism’ have been suggested with this in mind. Here I consider a closely related challenge for realism: that of articulating how a theory should be interpreted at any given time. In a crucial respect the challenges posed by diachronic and synchronic interpretation are the same; in both cases, realists face an apparent dilemma. The thinner their interpretations, the easier realism is to defend, but at the cost of more substantial commitment. The more substantial their interpretations, the more difficult they are to defend. I consider this worry in the context of the Standard Model of particle physics.

Comment: This text presents challenges to scientific realism, and shows how these challenges can be mitigated.

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Chakravartty, Anjan, , . Scientific Realism
2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Matthew Watts

Abstract: Debates about scientific realism are closely connected to almost everything else in the philosophy of science, for they concern the very nature of scientific knowledge. Scientific realism is a positive epistemic attitude toward the content of our best theories and models, recommending belief in both observable and unobservable aspects of the world described by the sciences. This epistemic attitude has important metaphysical and semantic dimensions, and these various commitments are contested by a number of rival epistemologies of science, known collectively as forms of scientific antirealism. This article explains what scientific realism is, outlines its main variants, considers the most common arguments for and against the position, and contrasts it with its most important antirealist counterparts.

Comment: This is a useful encyclopedic entry in courses that are offering introductions to philosophy of science, or more advanced scientific realism.

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Elsamahi, Mohamed, , . A ctitique of localized realism
2005, Philosophy of Science 72(5): 1350-1360.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

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.

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Ivanova, Milena, , . Friedman’s Relativised A Priori and Structural Realism: In Search of Compatibility
2011, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (1):23 – 37.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Milena Ivanova

Abstract: In this article I discuss a recent argument due to Dan McArthur, who suggests that the charge that Michael Friedman’s relativised a priori leads to irrationality in theory change can be avoided by adopting structural realism. I provide several arguments to show that the conjunction of Friedman?s relativised a priori with structural realism cannot make the former avoid the charge of irrationality. I also explore the extent to which Friedman’s view and structural realism are compatible, a presupposition of McArthur’s argument. This compatibility is usually questioned, due to the Kantian aspect of Friedman’s view, which clashes with the metaphysical premise of scientific realism. I argue that structural realism does not necessarily depend on this premise and as a consequence can be compatible with Friedman’s view, but more importantly I question whether Friedman’s view really implies mind dependence

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Leng, Mary, , . Platonism and Anti-Platonism: Why Worry?
2005, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19(1):65-84
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Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by:

Abstract: This paper argues that it is scientific realists who should be most concerned about the issue of Platonism and anti-Platonism in mathematics. If one is merely interested in accounting for the practice of pure mathematics, it is unlikely that a story about the ontology of mathematical theories will be essential to such an account. The question of mathematical ontology comes to the fore, however, once one considers our scientific theories. Given that those theories include amongst their laws assertions that imply the existence of mathematical objects, scientific realism, when construed as a claim about the truth or approximate truth of our scientific theories, implies mathematical Platonism. However, a standard argument for scientific realism, the ‘no miracles’ argument, falls short of establishing mathematical Platonism. As a result, this argument cannot establish scientific realism as it is usually defined, but only some weaker position. Scientific ‘realists’ should therefore either redefine their position as a claim about the existence of unobservable physical objects, or alternatively look for an argument for their position that does establish mathematical Platonism.

Comment: Previous knowledge both on Platonism in philosophy of mathematics and scientific realism is needed. Essential paper for advanced courses of philosophy of science.

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Massimi, Michela, , . Saving Unobservable Phenomena
2007, British Journal of Philosophy of Science 58(2): 235-262.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

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.

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McGowan, M.K, , . The Metaphysics of Squaring Scientific Realism with Referential Indeterminacy
1999, Erkenntnis 50(1): 87-94.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

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.

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