, Volume 78, Issue 1, pp 39–58 | Cite as

Realism in the Desert and in the Jungle: Reply to French, Ghins, and Psillos



A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable has two primary aims. The first is to extract the most promising refinements of the idea of scientific realism to emerge in recent decades and assemble them into a maximally defensible realist position, semirealism. The second is to demonstrate that, contra antirealist scepticism to the contrary, key concepts typically invoked by realists in expounding their views can be given a coherent and unified explication. These concepts include notions of causation, laws of nature, scientific kinds, and approximate truth, and consequently, the demonstration undertaken includes a metaphysical study of ideas more commonly employed unreflectively in epistemological assessments of the sciences. In this paper, I answer searching critiques of this project by Steven French, Michel Ghins, and Stathis Psillos.



I am much obliged to Curtis Forbes and Greg Lusk for discussing the content of this paper with me. It is an honour (and not a little bit daunting) to have the perceptive scrutiny of Steven French, Michel Ghins, and Stathis Psillos focused on one’s ideas with such rigour and generosity. I could not be more grateful to them, and to Gabriele Contessa whose idea this was and who skilfully managed each stage of the process. For their continuing inspiration and encouragement, my sincere thanks.


  1. Chakravartty, A. (2007). A metaphysics for scientific realism: Knowing the unobservable. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. French, S. (2013). Semi-realism, sociability and structure. Erkenntnis. doi: 10.1007/s10670-012-9417-0.
  3. Ghins, M. (2013). Semirealism, concrete structures and theory change. Erkenntnis. doi: 10.1007/s10670-012-9416-1.
  4. Psillos, S. (2013). Semirealism or Neo-Aristotelianism? Erkenntnis. doi: 10.1007/s10670-012-9418-z.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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