A Fond Farewell to "Approximate Truth"?

P. Kyle Stanford


Most commonly, the scientific realism debate is seen as dividing those who do and do not think that the striking empirical and practical successes of at least our best scientific theories indicate with high probability that those theories are ‘approximately true’. But I want to suggest that this characterization of the debate has far outlived its usefulness. Not only does it obscure the central differences between two profoundly different types of contemporary scientific realist, but even more importantly it serves to disguise the most substantial points of actual disagreement between these two kinds of realists and those who instead think the historical record of scientific inquiry itself reveals that such realism is untenable in either form.

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Psillos, Stathis. 1999. Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks Truth. New York: Routledge.

Stanford, P. Kyle. 2015. Catastrophism, Uniformitarianism, and a Realism Debate That Makes a Difference. Philosophy of Science 82(5): 867-878.

Worrall, John. 1989. Structural Realism: The Best of Both Worlds. Dialectica 43(1/2): 99-124.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4245/sponge.v9i1.28057

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