Evaluating and Explaining the Success of Science: a Historical Perspective
MetadataShow full item record
The recent literature surrounding the realist/anti-realist debates in the philosophy of science has focused its attention towards the role that history plays in explaining why science is successful and thus approximately true. This has been caused, in large part, by the Pessimistic Meta-Induction (PMI), which has challenged attempted explanations by turning our attention towards the large amount of scientific theories that have been abandoned but were still empirically successful. There will be two primary goals of this paper. The first will be to explore the PMI more deeply than it traditionally has been. This will involve demonstrating how the PMI is more malleable than it is normally given credit for as well as how meta-inductions can and have been used in practice. The second goal will be to discuss the implications of this more robust form of the PMI for explanationist realism, or the thesis that scientific realism provides the best answer as to why science is successful. I will argue that explanationist realism, after being cornered by the malleability of the PMI, turns out to be either a trivial or false thesis. Given this demise of explanationist realism as a substantive thesis, I will argue that the strength of scientific realism truly lies in its critical abilities or its ability to normatively assess scientific theories and the way we ought to practice science.