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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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Chakravartty, Anjan, , Van Fraassen, Bas C.. What is Scientific Realism?
2018, Spontaneous Generations 9 (1):12-25
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Matthew Watts

Abstract: Decades of debate about scientific realism notwithstanding, we find ourselves bemused by what different philosophers appear to think it is, exactly. Does it require any sort of belief in relation to scientific theories and, if so, what sort? Is it rather typified by a certain understanding of the rationality of such beliefs? In the following dialogue we explore these questions in hopes of clarifying some convictions about what scientific realism is, and what it could or should be. En route, we encounter some profoundly divergent conceptions of the nature of science and of philosophy.

Comment: This paper is useful in courses involving the ontology and structure of scientific realism.
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Ivanova, Milena, , . Did Perrin’s Experiments Convert Poincare to Scientific Realism?
2013, Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 3 (1):1-19.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Milena Ivanova

Abstract: In this paper I argue that Poincare’s acceptance of the atom does not indicate a shift from instrumentalism to scientific realism. I examine the implications of Poincare’s acceptance of the existence of the atom for our current understanding of his philosophy of science. Specifically, how can we understand Poincare’s acceptance of the atom in structural realist terms? I examine his 1912 paper carefully and suggest that it does not entail scientific realism in the sense of acceptance of the fundamental existence of atoms but rather, argues against fundamental entities. I argue that Poincare’s paper motivates a non-fundamentalist view about the world, and that this is compatible with his structuralism.

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

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Massimi, Michaela, , . Why There are No Ready-Made Phenomena: What Philosophers of Science Should Learn From Kant
2008, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 63:1-35.
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Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by:

Abstract: The debate on scientific realism has raged among philosophers of science for decades. The scientific realist’s claim that science aims to give us a literally true description of the way things are, has come under severe scrutiny and attack by Bas van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism. All science aims at is to save the observable phenomena, according to van Fraassen. Scientific realists have faced since a main sceptical challenge: the burden is on them to prove that the entities postulated by our scientific theories are real and that science is still in the ‘truth’ business.

Comment: This article provides a very clear explanation of the scientific realism/Van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism debate highlighting scientific realists’ main difficulty, i.e find a proof that entities posited by science are real. Presupposes some background on the above mentioned themes.

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