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Title: A realist reply to historically motivated anti-realism about science
Author: Koo, Bon-Hyuk
ISNI:       0000 0004 5917 4646
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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This dissertation attempts to provide a realist position about science that is defensible against anti-realist arguments motivated by the history 'of science. It first investigates two versions of Pessimistic Meta-induction (PMI) for anti-realism: the enumerative inductive argument that our current theories will be shown false as the past ones have, and the argument by counterexample (Ladyman 2002) that only require one recalcitrant case that is successful yet false to sever the triad relations between success, truth and reference, undermining the no-miracles argument (NMA). While the first can be answered, the latter calls realists to study the past scientific theories and provide a realist explanation for their successes. The phlogiston theory is chosen as the case study for this dissertation, and it is shown that the phlogiston theory enjoyed various successes including novel predictive successes, and that a comparison between the theory and our contemporary chemical theory reveals a significant amount of continuity. Then the realist accounts to respond to PMI are examined, starting with attempts to restore referential continuity by means of devising an appropriate theory of reference, with varying degrees of success. The dependence of PMI on reference, and that realism is not hinged upon the issue of reference but that of approximate truth, make this particular approach superfluous to defending realism. Realist accounts with the 'divide and conquer' strategy are then assessed, starting from Psillos (1999) to epistemic structural realism (ESR), ontic structural realism (OSR) and Chakravartty's semirealism, some faring better than others. However, Kyle Stanford's 'trust' argument is presented to show that all the realist accounts that use the' divide and conquer' strategy are susceptible to the charge of being ad hoc in selection over the theoretical constituents. In response to the' trust' argument, I present my own realist account: objective blind realism (OBR). It is a minimal realist position, which appeals to NMA for approximate truth of genuinely successful scientific theories but does not attempt to locate which parts of the theories are approximately true. Potential objections to objective blind realism are explored and answered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available