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Page 1 of 46 Abstracts submitted for the conference “New Thinking about Scientific Realism” Contents A [1]: General Scientific Realism .................................................................................................................................................. 2 1) Morteza Sedaghat - A Practicalist D
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  Page 1  of 46  1  Abstracts submitted for the conference “New Thinking about Scientific Realism” Contents  A [1]: General Scientific Realism .................................................................................................................................................. 2  1) Morteza Sedaghat - A Practicalist Defense of Scientific Realism ............................................................................... 2 2) J Wolff – A new target for scientific realism debates ................................................................................................. 3 3) Samuel Schindler – Kuhnian theory choice, convergence, and base rates ................................................................ 3 4) Raphael Scholl – Realism from a causal point of view: Snow, Koch and von Pettenkofer on Cholera ...................... 4 5) Mark Newman – Scientific Realism, the Pessimistic Meta-Induction, and Our Sense of Understanding .................. 4 6) Axel Gelfert – Experimental Realism and Desiderata of Manipulative Success ......................................................... 6 7) Jack Ritchie – I could be wrong but it just depends what you mean: explaining the inconclusiveness of the realism-anti-realism debate................................................................................................................................................ 7 8) Dean Peters – Observability, perception and the extended mind ............................................................................. 7 9) Adam Toon – Empiricism for cyborgs - ....................................................................................................................... 9 10) Curtis Forbes – An Existential Approach to Scientific Realism ............................................................................... 9 11) Andrew Nicholson – Are there any new directions for scientific realism? ........................................................... 10 B [2]: Truth, Progress, Success and Scientific Realism ...................................................................................................... 11  12) Michael Shaffer – Farewell to the Realism/Anti-realism Debate: Practical Realism and Scientific Progress. ...... 11 13) Juan Manuel Vila Pérez – A Critique of Scientific Pluralism – The Case For QM .................................................. 12 14) Danielle Macbeth – Revolution and   Realism? ...................................................................................................... 13 15) Nora Berenstain – Scientific Realism and the Commitment to Modality, Mathematics, and Metaphysical Dependence ...................................................................................................................................................................... 14 16) John Collier – Information Can Preserve Structure across Scientific Revolutions ................................................ 15 17) Juha Saatsi – Pessimistic induction and realist recipes: a reassessment .............................................................. 16 18) Mario Alai – Deployment vs. discriminatory realism ............................................................................................ 16 19) Gauvain Leconte – Predictive success, partial truth and skeptical realism .......................................................... 18 20) Sreekumar Jayadevan – Does History of Science Underdetermine the Scientific Realism Debate? A Metaphilosophical Perspective......................................................................................................................................... 19 21) Hennie Lötter – Thinking anew about truth in scientific realism ......................................................................... 20  C [3]: Selective Realisms ............................................................................................................................................................... 22  22) Xavi Lanao – Towards a Structuralist Ontology: an Account of Individual Objects .............................................. 22 23) David William Harker – Whiggish history or the benefit of hindsight? ................................................................ 23 24) Christian Carman & José DíezLaunching Ptolemy to the Scientific Realism Debate: Did Ptolemy Make Novel and Successful Predictions? .............................................................................................................................................. 24 25) Timothy Lyons – Epistemic Selectivity, Historical Testability, and the Non-Epistemic Tenets of Scientific Realism. ............................................................................................................................................................................. 25 26) Peter Vickers – A Disjunction Problem for Selective Scientific Realism ............................................................... 26 27) Raphael Kunstler – Semirealist’s dilemma ............................................................................................................ 27 28) Elena Castellani – Structural Continuity and Realism ........................................................................................... 28 29) Tom Pashby – Entities, Experiments and Events: Structural Realism Reconsidered ............................................ 29 30) Angelo Cei – The Epistemic Structural Realist Program. Some interference. ...................................................... 30 31) Kevin Coffey – Is Underdetermination a Problem for Structural Realism? .......................................................... 31 32) Michael Vlerick - A biological case against entity realism .................................................................................... 32 33) Rune Nyrup – Perspectival realism: where's the perspective in that? ................................................................. 33 D [4]: The Semantic View and Scientific Realism ................................................................................................................ 34  34) Alex Wilson – Voluntarism and Psillos’ Causal-Descriptive Theory of Reference ................................................ 34 35) Alistair Isaac – The Locus of the Realism Question for the Semantic View .......................................................... 35 36) Francesca Pero – The Role of Epistemic Stances within the Semantic View ........................................................ 36 E [5]: Scientific Realism and the Social Sciences .................................................................................................................. 37  37) David Spurret – Physicalism as an empirical hypothesis ...................................................................................... 37 F [6]: Anti-Realism .......................................................................................................................................................................... 38  38) Moti Mizrahi – The Problem of Unconceived Objections and Scientific Antirealism ........................................... 38 39) Emma Ruttkamp-Bloem – The Possibility of an Epistemic Realism ...................................................................... 40 40) Yafeng Shan – What entities exist ........................................................................................................................ 40 41) Daniel Kodaj – From conventionalism to phenomenalism ................................................................................... 42 42) Fabio Sterpetti – Optimality models and scientific realism .................................................................................. 43  Page 2  of 46  2  A [1]: General Scientific Realism 1)   Morteza Sedaghat - A Practicalist Defense of Scientific Realism   Practicalism, or as it is introduced in the relevant literature “pragmatic encroachment”, in epistemology is explicitly this view that practical factors can be constitutive parts of epistemic justification. In other words, in contrast to what traditional epistemology says, what constitute epistemic justification are not merely truth-related factors such as evidence, reliability, etc. Practicalists argue for a pragmatic condition on epistemic justification, JA: if S’s belief that p is epistemically justified, then S is practically rational to act as if p. Contrastively speaking, the less S is practically rational to act as if p (i.e., according to what was said above, the less practical benefits S acquires to act as if p), the less S’s belief that p is epistemically justified. Call this latter condition, CJA. The argument behind JA (and similarly CJA) is the following one: (1) S’s belief that p is epistemically justified. (2)For two states of affairs A and B, S knows that if p then S is practically rational to prefer A. (3)Therefore, S is practically rational to prefer A, i.e. to act as if p. (4)Therefore, JA (and similarly CJA) holds. In other words, following what practicalism says, if S's belief that p is epistemically justified, this belief should provide enough practical reason for him to act accordingly and thereby acting as if p should produce more practical benefits for him in contrast to acting as if ~p. If, anyway, the latter does not hold, according to practicalism, S's belief that p is not epistemically justified for one cannot attribute that belief (i.e. the belief of p) to S in order to rationalize his actions. I am, for example, epistemically justified to believe that my home's refrigerator is empty for, among other things, I am practically rational to stop at the grocery to buy something, i.e. to act as if my home's refrigerator is empty. If I was not practically rational to stop at the grocery to buy something, it would be suspected that my belief that my home's refrigerator is empty is epistemically justified. In better words, since truth leads to success, if one's acting as if p does not lead to success it might be the case that p does not hold and thereby one does not know that p. Now let us consider the case in which p= scientific realism holds and ~p= scientific realism does not hold and see acting as if which of p or ~p produces more practical benefits. Accordingly, if practicalism holds, we can decide the belief of which of p or ~p is more epistemically justified and hence which of p or ~p is more likely to be true. If finally p comes out to be more likely to be true, we have a practicalist defense of scientific realism, i.e. a defense of scientific realism conditionally that practicalism holds. In this presentation, having provided some intuitions for what practicalism says regardless of objections against it, I want to show that S acquires more practical benefits (explanation, novel prediction and unification among others) to act as if scientific realism does hold than to act as if scientific realism does not holds . Hence, a practicalist defense of scientific realism. References: Hawthorne, J. (2004), Knowledge and Lotteries  , Oxford: Oxford University Press. Stanely, J. (2005), Knowledge and Practical Interests  , Oxford: Oxford University Press. Fantl, J. and McGrath, M. (2010), Knowledge in an Uncertain World, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Fantl, J. and McGrath, M. (2007), On Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology  , “Philosophy and Phenomenological Research”  , R. LXXV, nr 3, s. 558-589. Nagel, E. (1950), Science and semantic Realism , “Philosophy of Science”  , nr 17, s. 174-181. Duhem, P. (1906), The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory, trans. P. Wiener, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press (1954) Duhem, P. (1908), To Save the Phenomena, trans. E. Donald and C. Mascher, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1969) Mach, E. (1893), Popular Scientific Lectures, Chicago: Open Court. Carnap, R. (1928), The Logical Structure of The World, trans. R.George, Berkeley: University of California Press. Carnap, R. (1936), Testability and Meaning , “Philosophy of Science”  ,  nr 3, s. 419-471. Van Frassen, B.C. (1980), The Scientific Image, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Van Frassen, B.C. (1985), Empricism in Philosophy of Science , [w:] Images of Science, red. Churchland P.M. and Hooker C.A., Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Van Frassen, B.C. (1989), Laws and Symmetry, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Earman, J. (1992), Bayes or Bust? A Critical Examination of Bayesian Confirmation Theory  , Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.  Page 3  of 46  3 2)   J Wolff – A new target for scientific realism debates Realism and antirealism debates exist in many different areas of philosophy. The targets of such debates are typically either certain kinds of entities , whose existence a realist affirms and an antirealism denies, or certain kinds of claims , which a realist takes to be largely true, and an antirealist takes to be either systematically false, or as perhaps not even truth-apt. The ontological and semantic formulations of realism debates are not unrelated; a typical reason an antirealist might have for thinking that certain claims are systematically false is that the entities purportedly referred to in those claims do not exist, and accordingly there is nothing to make true the claims in question. In my paper I aim to do three things. First, I argue that it is far from clear what the target of the current scientific realism debate is. Secondly, I argue that both realists and antirealists could benefit from re-conceptualizing realism debates in the philosophy of science as debates about particular sorts of claims. Finally, I consider several candidates for claims, which might serve as the target of re-conceptualized scientific realism debates. To argue for the first point, I show that the current targets of scientific realism debates are problematic. One option is to take science (or scientific discourse) as a whole to be the target of scientific realism debates. This is prima facie plausible, since the status of science as an endeavor or institution is arguably what is at stake in these debates. The downside of taking science as a whole as the target is that it leads to a wellknown impasse between the antirealists’ pessimistic meta-induction (PMI) and the realists’ no-miracles argument (NMA). Both arguments, at least in their srcinal intent, are directed at science as a whole: the NMA insists that antirealists fail to explain the incredible success of science, whereas the PMI points to the allegedly numerous cases of overturned theories to suggest that even our own best theories might very well turn out to be false. There are three alternatives to this impasse. The first is van Fraassen’s famous proposal to make the aim of science the target of realism debates; realists, van Fraassen suggests, are those who take science to aim for truth, whereas empiricists are those who take science to aim merely for empirical adequacy. The second response comes in the form of various selective realisms, which try to identify that part of scientific theories which is likely to survive through theory change. The third response is to abandon science as a whole as the target, and to take particular theories or models as targets of scientific realism instead. An example of this can be seen in recent trends of “retail” as opposed to “wholesale” realism, which restricts the NMA to particular models or theories, without committing to an extension of the argument to science as a whole. I argue that each of these responses faces severe difficulties, which motivates the search for an alternative. To argue for the second main point, I compare scientific realism debates to realism debates in other fields, in particular in meta-ethics. Questions about realism in ethics proceed from having identified a distinctive feature of ethical claims: they are normative. In contrasting the normativity of ethical claims with that of descriptive claims, questions about realism in ethics can be raised as questions about what makes distinctively normative claims true, in (putative) contrast to the truth-makers of descriptive claims. This suggests that it is a good strategy for articulating realism debates about a particular discourse to identify which claims, if any, in that discourse   appear to be problematic, and why. To so benefits both realists and antirealists, since it allows for a clearer statement of the various realist and antirealist positions one might want to take. In light of this I look at several candidates for such claims within science: claims about unobservable entities, modal claims, and quantitative claims. Science arguably involves claims of each sort, which means a realist about science should be in a position to take (at least some) claims of these three types to be true. I argue that while each kind of claim is potentially epistemically problematic when compared to qualitative, non-modal claims about observables, modal claims and quantitative claims are, in addition, also semantically and metaphysically problematic. For both modal claims and quantitative claims, the question arises what makes them true, and it seems, at least prima facie, that their truth-makers differ from the truth-makers of non-modal claims and the truth-makers of qualitative claims respectively. This is not the case for claims about unobservable entities: we have no good reason to think that electrons cannot make true claims about electrons in very much the same way in which apples make true claims about apples. That unobservable entities are at best epistemically, but not ontologically, problematic is widely recognized by contemporary empiricists as well. An antirealist position about science, which targets modal claims or quantitative claims, by contrast, would have metaphysical and semantic aspects as well. Conversely, a realist about science would do well to provide truth-makers for modal claims and quantitative claims. I conclude that both modal claims and quantitative claims make for an appropriate target of realism debates about science. 3)   Samuel Schindler – Kuhnian theory choice, convergence, and base rates The arguably strongest contemporary argument for scientific realism, the No-Miracles-Argument ( NMA ), has it that it would be a miracle if our theories were as successful as they are, and not be true. As Howson (2000) pointed out, however, as normally stated, the NMA  commits the base rate fallacy: it ignores the ‘base rate’ / prior probability of theories being true (depending on one’s preference for the interpretation of probabilities in frequentist or subjectivist terms, respectively). But the base rates matter: when the base rate is very low, the posterior probability of a successful theory being true will be very low, even when the ‘error rates’, i.e., the false positive and  Page 4  of 46  4 the false negative rates (i.e., the rate of a theory being successful if false, and the rate of a theory not being successful if true, respectively) are very low. And apparently, setting the values for the base rates is elusive. If probabilities are construed objectively, then it looks as though we have no way of finding out about them. If, on the other hand, probabilities are construed subjectively, then both the realist and antirealist can set the priors as they please. A rational debate about realism can then no longer be had (Magnus and Callender 2004). This paper will argue that the Kuhnian picture of theory choice suggests a strengthened defense of scientific realism. On the Kuhnian picture of theory choice, it is normally the case that a theory possesses some virtues but not others. The following ‘amplified’ No-Miracles-type argument (NMtA) then suggests itself: it would be an unlikely coincidence if a theory were to possess all   the five standard virtues and not be true. When formalizing such a NMtA, error rates now need to be fixed for each  of the theoretical virtues, giving the NMtA more leverage than the traditional NMA. Furthermore, it will be shown that there are  principled and non-arbitrary   grounds for setting the error rates at particular levels, whilst the principle of charity towards the antirealist is observed. Setting the error rates in this way will then (non-arbitrarily) determine the base rates. The base rate neglect charge is defeated. Interestingly it turns out that the Kuhnian picture of theory choice allows the realist to concede that the base level of true theories is rather low  and still have it her way  . Given the principled reasons for setting the error rates, the antirealist can now no longer simply insist that the base rate be lower. She must challenge the fixing of the error rates by argument  . Magnus and Callender’s skepticism about the ‘resolvability’ of the realism debate is thus rebutted. 4)   Raphael Scholl – Realism from a causal point of view: Snow, Koch and von Pettenkofer on Cholera In current debates about scientific realism, much deserved attention is paid to the “problem of unconceived alternatives”, which P. Kyle Stanford has developed in a rich series of detailed and well chosen case studies. However, it has not yet been explored how the problem of unconceived alternatives presents itself in sciences which can be broadly described as causal and mechanistic (for instance, molecular biology). There are reasons to think that the traditional problem as formulated by Stanford does not present itself: In causal inference, the space of possible hypotheses tends to be exhausted by the contradictories “P is a cause of Q” and “P is not a cause of Q” (this was emphasized by Peter Lipton in his debate with Bas Van Fraassen about the “argument from the bad lot”). While it may be difficult to determine which of these is true, there is no obvious room for unconceived alternatives. Nevertheless, there is ample room for debate about causal claims. First, we may question whether causal relevance or salience has been successfully demonstrated (for example if confounding is suspected). Second, we may ask what causal co-factors C are necessary for a given cause P to exert its effect on Q, and how often these co-factors are in fact realized. Third, we may debate the existence and relevance of alternative causal pathways promoting or preventing the occurrence of Q. Fourth, we may define event types at too coarse-grained or too fine-grained levels of description. Fifth and finally, there may exist unknown potential causes whose causal relevance we have not yet explored. If this characterization is correct, we would expect it to affect the dynamics of actual scientific debates in the causal and mechanistic sciences. In a detailed case study of John Snow’s, Robert Koch’s and Max Joseph von Pettenkofer’s work on cholera in the 19th century, I will show that the categories outlined above illuminate large parts of the actual debates about the causation and mechanism of cholera. I conclude that there are important parts of science where “unconceived alternatives” as traditionally conceived are not the primary problem for scientific realism. 5)   Mark Newman – Scientific Realism, the Pessimistic Meta-Induction, and Our Sense of Understanding In his (2005, 2006, 2011, 2014) Michael Devitt argues that an adequate version of the Pessimistic Meta-Induction must show not only that we have frequently got things wrong in our unobservable posits, but also that despite methodological improvements, we have not been getting increasingly right. His view is that we now have much more sophisticated and rigorous scientific methods than in previous centuries, so appeals to historical errors such as Phlogiston, Caloric, and the Luminiferous Ether are irrelevant to current optimism about our theories. This amounts to the claim that the PMI fails as an argument against scientific realism unless we have evidence against our highly reliable current scientific methods. J.D. Trout has provided the seed of just such undermining evidence. In his series of papers (2002, 2005, 2007) he argues that the sense  of understanding, which often reflects our feeling of having grasped the underlying causal nature of some part of the world, has contributed to a long historical train of scientific errors. The sense of understanding, he argues, is highly unreliable, and yet is at least part of the reason scientists accept theories (he cites Ptolemy, Galen, and the alchemists). This alone does not provide enough evidence to undermine Devitt’s claim, but Mark Newman (2010) has argued that the error of taking ‘intelligibility’ of a theory too seriously led directly to the most noted PMI cases: the acceptance of Phlogiston, Caloric, and the Luminiferous Ether. Unless scientists are nowadays ignoring ‘intelligibility’ as a part of their selection criteria for theories, (a dubious claim), then when combined with Trout’s thesis Newman’s work shows, contra  Devitt, that we do  currently have reasons
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