251 pages, 2 tables
Scientific realism is the view that our best scientific theories give approximately true descriptions of both observable and unobservable aspects of a mind-independent world. Debates between realists and their critics are at the very heart of the philosophy of science. Anjan Chakravartty traces the contemporary evolution of realism by examining the most promising strategies adopted by its proponents in response to the forceful challenges of antirealist sceptics, resulting in a positive proposal for scientific realism today. He examines the core principles of the realist position, and sheds light on topics including the varieties of metaphysical commitment required, and the nature of the conflict between realism and its empiricist rivals. By illuminating the connections between realist interpretations of scientific knowledge and the metaphysical foundations supporting them, his book offers a compelling vision of how realism can provide an internally consistent and coherent account of scientific knowledge.
Part I. Scientific Realism Today:
1. Realism and antirealism, metaphysics and empiricism
2. Selective scepticism: entity realism, structural realism, semirealism
3. Properties, particulars and concrete structures
Part II. Metaphysical Foundations:
4. Causal realism and causal processes
5. Dispositions, property identity and laws of nature
6. Sociability: natural and scientific kinds
Part III. Theory Meets World:
7. Representing and describing: theories and models
8. Approximate truths about approximate truth
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Anjan Chakravartty is Assistant Professor at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto.