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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, , . 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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Chang, Hasok, , . How to Take Realism Beyond Foot-Stamping
2001, Philosophy 76(1): 5-30.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: I propose a reformulation of realism, as the pursuit of ontological plausibility in our systems of knowledge. This is dubbed plausibility realism, for convenience of reference. Plausibility realism is non-empiricist, in the sense that it uses ontological plausibility as an independent criterion from empirical adequacy in evaluating systems of knowledge. Ontological plausibility is conceived as a precondition for intelligibility, nor for Truth; therefore, the function of plausibilty realism is to facilitate the kind of understanding that is not reducible to mere description or prediction. Difficulties in making objective judgements of ontological plausibility can be ameliorated if we adhere to the most basic ontological principles. The workings of plausibility realism are illustrated through a detailed discussion of how one ontological principle, which I call the principle of single value, can be employed with great effect. Throughout the paper the discussion draws on concrete examples from the history of science.

Comment: Captures an intuitive appeal of realism, and could be used to illustrate how to avoid implausible philosophical conclusions. Could be used in an introductory metaphysics course.

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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, , . 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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