Scientific realism is, at the most general level, the view that the world described by science is the real world, as it is, independent of what we might take it to be. Within philosophy of science, it is often framed as an answer to the question "what does the success of science involve?" The debate over what the success of science involves centers primarily on the status of unobservable entities (objects, processes and events) apparently talked about by scientific theories. Philosophy of science is the study of assumptions foundations and implications of Science. An entity is something that has a distinct separate Existence, though it need not be a material existence For other uses of Object see Object. In Philosophy, an object is a thing an Entity, or a Being. In Philosophy, events are objects in Time or instantiations of properties in objects The word theory has many distinct meanings in different fields of Knowledge, depending on their methodologies and the context of discussion. Roughly put, scientific realism is the thesis that the unobservable things talked about by science are little different from ordinary observable things (such as tables and chairs). A dissertation (also called thesis or disquisition) is a document that presents the author's Research and findings and is submitted in support of candidature
Scientific realism involves two basic positions. First, it is a set of claims about the features of an ideal scientific theory; an ideal theory is the sort of theory science aims to produce. Second, it is the commitment that science will eventually produce theories very much like an ideal theory and that science has done pretty well thus far in some domains. It is important to note that one might be a scientific realist regarding some sciences while not being a realist regarding others. For example, one might hold very realist attitudes toward physics, chemistry and biology, while being less realist toward economics, psychology and sociology.
According to scientific realism, an ideal scientific theory has the following features:
Combining the first and the second claim entails that an ideal scientific theory says true things about genuinely existing entities. The third claim says that we have reasons to believe that the things said about these entities are true.
Scientific realism usually holds that science makes progress, i. e. that scientific theories usually get successively better. For this reason, many people, scientific realist and otherwise, hold that realism should make sense of the progress of science in terms of theories being successively more like the ideal theory that scientific realists describe.
Scientific realism is related to much older philosophical positions including rationalism and realism. In Epistemology and in its broadest sense rationalism is "any view appealing to Reason as a source of knowledge or justification" (Lacey 286 Contemporary philosophical realism is the belief in a Reality that is completely Ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes linguistic practices beliefs However, it is a thesis about science developed in the twentieth century. Portraying scientific realism in terms of its ancient, medieval, and early modern cousins is at best misleading.
Scientific realism is developed largely as a reaction to Logical positivism. Logical positivism (later and more accurately called logical empiricism) is a school of philosophy that combines Empiricism, the idea that observational evidence is Logical positivism was the first philosophy of science in the twentieth century and the forerunner of scientific realism, holding that a sharp distinction can be drawn between observational terms and theoretical terms, the latter capable of semantic analysis in observational and logical terms.
Logical positivism encountered difficulties with:
These difficulties for logical positivism suggest, but do not entail, scientific realism, and lead to the development of realism as a philosophy of science. Carl Gustav "Peter" Hempel (born January 8 1905 in Oranienburg, Germany died November 9 1997 in Princeton Thomas Samuel Kuhn (surname ˈkuːn July 18, 1922  &ndash June 17, 1996) was an American intellectual who wrote extensively Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25 1908 Akron, Ohio &ndash December 25 2000 (known to intimates as "Van" Hilary Whitehall Putnam (born July 31 1926 is an American Philosopher who has been a central figure in Western philosophy since the 1960s especially in Philosophy
The development of realism as an alternative to positivism also lead to arguments to support realism as a philosophy of science.
Realism became the dominant philosophy of science after positivism. Bas van Fraassen developed constructive empiricism as an alternative to realism. Bastiaan Cornelis van Fraassen (born Goes, the Netherlands, 5 April 1941) is a member of the Princeton University Philosophy Responses to van Fraassen have sharpened realist positions and lead to some revisions of scientific realism.
One of the main arguments for scientific realism centers on the observation that scientific knowledge is progressive in nature, and that it is able to predict phenomena successfully. Many realists think the operational success of a theory lends credence to the idea that its more unobservable aspects exist, because they were how the theory reasoned its predictions. For example, a scientific realist would point out that science must derive some ontological support for atoms from the outstanding phenomenological success of all the theories using them. In Philosophy, ontology (from the Greek, genitive: of being (part
Arguments for scientific realism often appeal to abductive reasoning or "inference to the best explanation". Abduction, or inference to the best explanation, is a method of Reasoning in which one chooses the hypothesis that would if true best explain the relevant evidence Scientific realists point to the success of scientific theories in predicting and explaining a variety of phenomena, and argue that from this we can infer that our scientific theories (or at least the best ones) provide true descriptions of the world, or approximately so.
On the other hand, pessimistic induction, one of the main arguments against realism, argues that the history of science contains many theories once regarded as empirically successful but which are now believed to be false. In the Philosophy of science, the pessimistic induction, also known as the pessimistic meta-induction is an argument which seeks to rebut Scientific realism particularly Additionally, the history of science contains many empirically successful theories whose unobservable terms are not believed to genuinely exist. For example, the effluvial theory of static electricity is an empirically successful theory whose central unobservable terms have been replaced by later theories. Realists reply that replacement of particular realist theories with better ones is to be expected due to the progressive nature of scientific knowledge, and when such replacements occur only superfluous unobservables are dropped. For example, Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity showed that the concept of the luminiferous ether could be dropped because it had contributed nothing to the success of the theories of mechanics and electromagnetism. Albert Einstein ( German: ˈalbɐt ˈaɪ̯nʃtaɪ̯n; English: ˈælbɝt ˈaɪnstaɪn (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955 was a German -born theoretical Special relativity (SR (also known as the special theory of relativity or STR) is the Physical theory of Measurement in Inertial In the late 19th century " luminiferous aether " (or " ether " meaning light-bearing aether, was the term used to describe a medium for the propagation Mechanics ( Greek) is the branch of Physics concerned with the behaviour of physical bodies when subjected to Forces or displacements Electromagnetism is the Physics of the Electromagnetic field: a field which exerts a Force on particles that possess the property of On the other hand, when theory replacement occurs, a well-supported concept, such as the concept of atoms, is not dropped but is incorporated into the new theory in some form. History See also Atomic theory, Atomism The concept that matter is composed of discrete units and cannot be divided into arbitrarily tiny
Also against scientific realism social constructivists point out that scientific realism is unable to account for the rapid change that occurs in scientific knowledge during periods of revolution. Constructivist epistemology is an epistemological perspective in Philosophy about the nature of scientific knowledge held by many philosophers of science Constructivists may also argue that the success of theories is only a part of the construction. However, these arguments ignore the fact that many scientists are not realists. In fact, during what is perhaps the most notable example of revolution in science—the development of quantum mechanics in the 1920s—the dominant philosophy of science was logical positivism. Quantum mechanics is the study of mechanical systems whose dimensions are close to the Atomic scale such as Molecules Atoms Electrons Logical positivism (later and more accurately called logical empiricism) is a school of philosophy that combines Empiricism, the idea that observational evidence is The alternative realist Bohm interpretation of quantum mechanics does not make such a revolutionary break with the concepts of classical physics. The Bohm interpretation of Quantum mechanics, sometimes called Bohmian mechanics, the ontological interpretation, or the causal interpretation
Another argument against scientific realism, deriving from the underdetermination problem, is not so historically motivated as these others. Underdetermination (sometimes indeterminacy of data to theory) is a term used in the discussion of theories and their relation to the evidence that is cited to support It claims that observational data can in principle be explained by multiple theories that are mutually incompatible. Realists counter by pointing out that there have been few actual cases of underdetermination in the history of science. Usually the requirement of explaining the data is so exacting that scientists are lucky to find even one theory that fulfills it. Furthermore, if we take the underdetermination argument seriously, it implies that we can know about only what we have directly observed. Observation is either an activity of a living being (such as a Human) which senses and assimilates the Knowledge of a Phenomenon, or the recording of data For example, we could not theorize that dinosaurs once lived based on the fossil evidence because other theories (e. FOSSIL is a standard protocol for allowing serial communication for Telecommunications programs under the DOS Operating system. g. , that the fossils are clever hoaxes) can account for the same data. Realists claim that, in addition to empirical adequacy, there are other criteria for theory choice, such as parsimony. Parsimony is a 'less is better' concept of frugality economy stinginess or caution in arriving at a hypothesis or course of action