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An argument in defence of scientific realism

Paya, Ali; (1995) An argument in defence of scientific realism. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Scientific realism deals primarily with the scope of scientific knowledge. Based on the realist assumption about the independence of physical reality of man's mental faculty and mental constructs (such as languages, conceptual schemes, and conventions), it asserts that science can and does provide us with knowledge about both the observable and unobservable aspects of the physical reality. Anti-realists, from different denominations, reject the central tenet of scientific realism. While few amongst them may deny the very possibility of acquiring scientific knowledge, all would dispute the scope of such knowledge as considered by realists. In anti-realists' view, science, at best, can provide us with the knowledge of observable phenomena. In this essay, after a brief exposition of the main issues involved in the (scientific) realist - anti-realist dispute (Ch.1), and a short historical excursion concerning the development of the central themes in this controversy since the late nineteenth century (Ch.2), I shall concentrate on the cases of a number of modern anti-realists (mostly van Fraassen and Larry Laudan - Chs. 3 & 4), as well as a number of realists who have broken rank with the realist tradition (Ch.5). The bearing of the developments in quantum mechanics on the realist - anti-realist debate has also been critically examined (Ch.6). In the last chapter (Ch.7) an attempt has been made to introduce a more comprehensive theory of science which, it is hoped, will overcome the difficulties which have weakened the stance of the currently better known realist theories.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: An argument in defence of scientific realism
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Philosophy, religion and theology; Scientific realism
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10105903
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