Synthese

pp 1–13 | Cite as

Extending the argument from unconceived alternatives: observations, models, predictions, explanations, methods, instruments, experiments, and values

S.I. : Conceived Alternatives

Abstract

Stanford’s argument against scientific realism focuses on theories, just as many earlier arguments from inconceivability have. However, there are possible arguments against scientific realism involving unconceived (or inconceivable) entities of different types: observations, models, predictions, explanations, methods, instruments, experiments, and values. This paper charts such arguments. In combination, they present the strongest challenge yet to scientific realism.

Keywords

Unconceived alternatives Kyle Stanford Anti-Realism Science Scientific realism Scientific progress Underdetermination of theories by evidence 

Notes

Acknowledgments

My work on this paper was supported by: the Research Grants Council, Hong Kong (‘The Instrument of Science’, Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship); and also by the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University, in association with the European Union (COFUND Senior Research Fellowship). My thanks to two anonymous referees for several helpful comments.

References

  1. Ankeny, R. A., & Leonelli, S. (2011). What’s so special about model organisms? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 42, 313–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Best, M., Neuhauser, D., & Slavin, L. (2003). Evaluating mesmerism, Paris, 1784: The controversy over the blinded placebo controlled trials has not stopped. Quality and Safety in Health Care, 12, 232–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Butterfield, J. (2004). Between laws and models: Some philosophical morals of Lagrangian mechanics. (http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0409030).
  4. Cartwright, D. E. (1999). Tides: A scientific history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cartwright, N. (1999). The dappled world: A study of the boundaries of science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cavendish, H. (1798). Experiments to determine the density of the earth. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 88, 469–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chalmers, D. (2002). Does conceivability entail possibility? In T. Gendler & J. Hawthorne (Eds.), Conceivability and possibility (pp. 145–200). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cushing, J. T. (1994). Quantum mechanics: Historical contingency and the Copenhagen hegemony. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. De Solla Price, D. (1974). Gears from the Greeks. The Antikythera mechanism: A calendar computer from ca. 80 B.C. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 64(7), 1–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Douglas, H., & Magnus, P. D. (2013). State of the field: Why novel prediction matters. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 44, 580–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dürr, D., Goldstein, S., & Zanghì, N. (1997). Bohmian mechanics and the meaning of the wave function. In R. S. Cohen, M. Horne, & J. Stachel (Eds.), Experimental metaphysics—Quantum mechanical studies for Abner Shimony (Vol. I, pp. 25–38). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  12. Elgin, C. Z. (2007). Understanding and the facts? Philosophical Studies, 132, 33–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Everitt, C. W. F., et al. (2011). Gravity probe B: Final results of a space experiment to test general relativity. Physical Review Letters, 106, 221101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Faye, J. (2014). Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-copenhagen/.
  15. Feyerabend, P. K. (1958). An attempt at a realistic interpretation of experience. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 58, 143–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Frigg, R., Hartmann, S. (2012). Models in science. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2012/entries/models-science/).
  17. Gillies, D. (2000). Philosophical theories of probability. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Hájek, A. (1997). Mises redux–redux: Fifteen arguments against finite frequentism. Erkenntnis, 45, 209–227.Google Scholar
  19. Hájek, A. (2009). Fifteen arguments against hypothetical frequentism. Erkenntnis, 70, 211–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Harker, D. (2008). On the predilections for predictions. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 59, 429–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Harré, R. (1959). Notes on P. K. Feyerabend’s criticism of positivism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 10, 43–48.Google Scholar
  22. Hempel, C. G. (1965). Aspects of scientific explanation and other essays in the philosophy of science. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  23. Huber, F. (2008). Milne’s argument for the log-ratio measure. Philosophy of Science, 75, 413–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kaptchuk, T. J. (1998). Intentional ignorance: A history of blind assessment and placebo controls in medicine. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 72, 389–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kuhn, T. S. (1957). The Copernican revolution: Planetary astronomy in the development of western thought. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Kuhn, T. S. (1977). The essential tension: Selected studies in scientific tradition and change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  27. Laudan, L. (1981). A confutation of convergent realism. Philosophy of Science, 48, 19–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Maher, P. (1988). Prediction, accommodation, and the logic of discovery. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988, 1, 273–285.Google Scholar
  29. Maxwell, G. (1962). The ontological status of theoretical entities. In H. Feigl & G. Maxwell (Eds.), Scientific explanation, space, and time (pp. 181–192). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  30. Milne, P. (1996). Log[P(\(h\)/ eb)/P(\(h\)/\(b)\)] is the one true measure of confirmation. Philosophy of Science, 63, 21–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Morrison, M. (1999). Models as autonomous agents. In M. S. Morgan & M. Morrison (Eds.), Models as mediators. Perspectives on natural and social science (pp. 38–65). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Musgrave, A. (1974). Logical versus historical theories of confirmation. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 25, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Popper, K. R. (1959). The logic of scientific discovery. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  34. Popper, K. R. (1983). Realism and the aim of science. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Rosi, G., Sorrentino, F., Cacciapuoti, L., Prevedelli, M., & Tino, G. M. (2014). Precision measurement of the Newtonian gravitational constant using cold atoms. Nature, 510, 518–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rowbottom, D. P. (2008). The big test of corroboration. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 22, 293–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rowbottom, D. P. (2009). Models in physics and biology: What’s the difference? Foundations of Science, 14, 281–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rowbottom, D. P. (2011). Popper’s critical rationalism: A philosophical investigation. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Rowbottom, D. P. (2013). Group level interpretations of probability: New directions. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 94, 188–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rowbottom, D. P. (2014a). Aimless science. Synthese, 191, 1211–1221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rowbottom, D. P. (2014b). Information versus knowledge in confirmation theory. Logique et Analyse, 226, 137–149.Google Scholar
  42. Rowbottom, D. P. (2015a). Probability. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  43. Rowbottom, D. P. (2015b). Scientific progress without increasing verisimilitude: In response to Niiniluoto. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 51, 100–104.Google Scholar
  44. Salmon, W. C. (1990a). Rationality and objectivity in science or Tom Kuhn meets Tom Bayes. In C. W. Savage (Ed.), Scientific theories (pp. 175–204). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  45. Salmon, W. C. (1990b). The appraisal of theories: Kuhn meets Bayes. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990, 2, 325–332.Google Scholar
  46. Schiff, L. T. (1960). Possible new experimental test of general relativity theory. Physical Review Letters, 4, 215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Stanford, P. K. (2001). Refusing the Devil’s Bargain: What kind of underdetermination should we take seriously? Philosophy of Science, 68, S1–S12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stanford, P. K. (2006). Exceeding our grasp: Science, history, and the problem of unconceived alternatives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Van Dover, C. (2000). The ecology of deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Williamson, J. (2015). Deliberation, judgement and the nature of evidence. Economics and Philosophy, 31, 27–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wolf, P., & Petit, G. (1997). Satellite test of special relativity using the global positioning system. Physical Review A, 56, 4405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Worrall, J. (1989). Fresnel, Poisson and the white spot: The role of successful predictions in the acceptance of scientific theories. In D. Gooding, T. Pinch, & S. Schaffer (Eds.), The uses of experiment: Studies in the natural sciences (pp. 135–157). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyLingnan UniversityTuen MunHong Kong

Personalised recommendations