, Volume 194, Issue 9, pp 3233–3244 | Cite as

Replacing recipe realism

  • Juha SaatsiEmail author
S.I.: New Thinking about Scientific Realism


Many realist writings exemplify the spirit of ‘recipe realism’. Here I characterise recipe realism, challenge it, and propose replacing it with ‘exemplar realism’. This alternative understanding of realism is more piecemeal, robust, and better in tune with scientists’ own attitude towards their best theories, and thus to be preferred.


Scientific realism Selective realism Pessimistic induction 



A version of this paper was presented at New Thinking about Scientific Realism conference in Cape Town. I would like to thank the audience. Special thanks to Steven French.


  1. Barrett, J. (2008). Approximate truth and descriptive nesting. Erkenntnis, 68(2), 213–224.Google Scholar
  2. Belot, G. (2014). Down to earth underdetermination. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 91(1), 456–464.Google Scholar
  3. Boyd, R. N. (1973). Realism, underdetermination, and a causal theory of evidence. Noûs, 7(1), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Butterfield, J. (2012). Underdetermination in cosmology: An invitation. Aristotelian Society Supplementary, 86(1), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chakravartty, A. (2015). Scientific realism. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Fall 2015 Edition).
  6. Cruse, P., & Papineau, D. (2002). Scientific realism without reference. In M. Marsonet (Ed.), The problem of realism (pp. 174–189). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  7. French, S. (2014). The structure of the world: Metaphysics and representation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Frost-Arnold, G. (2010). The no-miracles argument for realism: Inference to an unacceptable explanation. Philosophy of Science, 77(1), 35–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hofstadter, D. R. (1976). Energy levels and wave functions of bloch electrons in rational and irrational magnetic fields. Physical Review B, 14, 2239–2249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ladyman, J. (1998). What is structural realism? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 29A(3), 409–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ladyman, J. (2011). Structural realism versus standard scientific realism: The case of phlogiston and dephlogisticated air. Synthese, 180, 87–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ladyman, J., Ross, D., Spurrett, D., & Collier, J. (2007). Every thing must go: Metaphysics naturalized. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Malament, D. (2012). Topics in the foundations of general relativity and New-tonian gravitation theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  14. Peters, D. (2014). What elements of successful scientific theories are the correct targets for ‘selective’ scientific realism? Philosophy of Science, 81(3), 377–397.Google Scholar
  15. Putnam, H. (1979). Mind, language and reality: Philosophical papers (Vol. 2). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Saatsi, J. (2012). Scientific realism and historical evidence: Shortcomings of the current state of debate. In S. O. S. de Regt, Henk W.; Hartmann (Ed.), EPSA Philosophy of Science: Amsterdam 2009, pp. 329–340. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. Saatsi, J. (Forthcoming a). Historical inductions: Old and new. Synthese.Google Scholar
  18. Saatsi, J. (Forthcoming b). What is theoretical progress of science?Google Scholar
  19. Saatsi, J. (Forthcoming c). Explanation and explanationism in science and metaphysics. In M. Slater & Z. Yudell (Eds.), Metaphysics and the philosophy of science: New essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Saatsi, J., & Vickers, P. (2011). Miraculous success? Inconsistency and untruth in Kirchhoff’s diffraction theory. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 62(1), 29–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Smeenk, C. (2013). Philosophy of cosmology. In R. Batterman (Ed.), The oxford handbook of philosophy of physics (pp. 607–652). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Stanford, P. K. (2003). Pyrrhic victories for scientific realism. Journal of Philosophy, 100(11), 553–572.Google Scholar
  23. van Fraassen, B. (2002). The empirical stance. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Vickers, P. (2013). A confrontation of convergent realism. Philosophy of Science, 80(2), 189–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Worrall, J. (1989). Structural realism: The best of both worlds? Dialectica 43, 99–124. Reprinted in Papineau, D. (ed.) The Philosophy of Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 139–165.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeedsLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations