Axiological Scientific Realism and Methodological Prescription

Conference paper
Part of the The European Philosophy of Science Association Proceedings book series (EPSP, volume 1)


In this chapter I distinguish between two kinds of meta-hypotheses, or hypotheses about science, at issue in the scientific realism debate. The first (Type-D) are descriptive empirical hypotheses regarding the nature of scientific inquiry. The second (Type-E) are epistemological theories about what individuals (scientists or non-scientists) should/can justifiably believe about (successful) scientific theories. Favoring (variants of) the realist Type-D meta-hypotheses, I argue that realist and non-realist efforts in the debate over Type-Es have been valuable in the quest to describe and understand the nature of scientific inquiry. For the realism debate itself has inadvertently and indirectly laid the foundations for an important kind of Type-D meta-hypothesis, one regarding flexibility in theorizing in the history of science—which, in turn, is relevant to refining our descriptions of the nature of scientific inquiry. After illustrating this result with regard to the historical argument (a.k.a. the pessimistic induction) against realism, I suggest that such empirically attained meta-hypotheses can, in turn, be made methodologically prescriptive.



I am indebted to two anonymous referees, John Worrall, Gerald Doppelt, Stathis Psillos, Mauricio Suárez, Howard Sankey, John Tilley, and Andrew Kimmell.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyIndiana University–Purdue University IndianapolisIndianapolisUSA

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