Posts tagged ‘anti realism’

December 20th, 2013

Science without Epistemology is Impossible

by Max Andrews

A robust epistemology is a sufficient condition for a successful pursuit of scientific inquiry.  There are many other factors and conditions that must be met for science but a vigorous epistemic model for how one pursues scientific inquiry is needed; otherwise, there may be sufficient reasons to doubt not only the conclusions of the scientific inquiry but as well as the pool of data, which must be assessed appropriately.  The scientist is more than welcome to pursue an empiricist model for his epistemology, though strict [naturalistic] empiricism is not very robust, but it must have certain allowances for metaphysical import—perhaps more rationalistic.

I believe the best way to construct a robust epistemology and scientific method is to be a realist.  What I mean by this is that the external reality is how it appears to be to an observer making an epistemic inquiry, the measurements from science accurately depicts reality.  This is in contrast to instrumentalism/anti-realism, which suggests that our inquiry of the world, scientifically, do not accurately depict reality but as useful fictions.  An instrumentalist is more concerned about data fitting theories and predictions than with an accurate depiction of reality.

For the scientific realist, the ontology of the world determines one’s epistemology.  They congruently correspond.  It is important to note the order of entailment.  Antecedently, reality determines our epistemology. 

December 14th, 2013

Is Constructive Empiricism a Viable Option between Realism and Anti-Realism?

by Max Andrews

Constructive empiricism (CE), primarily developed by Bas van Fraassen, regards theoretical identities rather than realistically. CE allows an empiricist approach to science without requiring the language and formulation of theory that the positivist uses.  When one affirms accepts CE one must believe what the theory says about observables, that is, one must believe that the theory is empirically adequate; but one does not have to believe the whole theory, including what it says about unobservables.  Van Fraassen argues that science can be understood without the strong realist approach.  Science’s aim becomes set on empirical adequacy rather than the full-blown truth.[1]

Van Fraassen defines an ‘observable’ as:

X is observable if there are circumstances such that, if X is present to us under those circumstances then we observe it.[2]

That which serves as an observation is not necessarily in the scope of philosophy.  The limits of observation are a subject for empirical science, and not for philosophical analysis.[3] Thus, a theory is empirically adequate if and only if what it says about the observable things and events in this world is true.

Empiricism set limits on what one is rationally obligated to believe.  Van Fraassen makes the distinction between acceptance and belief.  There is no commitment, under CE, to believe the truth of the theory but one can accept the empirical data.  This is very modest in its commitment to the informative power of a theory. 

May 15th, 2013

The Evidentialist and the Scientific Theologian

by Max Andrews

I am approaching the world as a realist. (For a background of my epistemology please see: My Evidentialist Epistemology).  What I mean by this is that the external reality is how it appears to be to an observer making an epistemic inquiry, the measurements from science accurately depicts reality.  This is in contrast to instrumentalism, which suggests that our inquiry of the world, scientifically, do not accurately depict reality but as useful fictions.  An instrumentalist is more concerned about data fitting theories and predictions than with an accurate depiction of reality.

For the realist-evidentialist, the ontology of the world determines one’s epistemology.  They congruently correspond.  It is important to note the order of entailment.  Antecedently, reality determines our epistemology.  It would be illicit to reverse the term order and as Roy Bhaskar notes, it would be the epistemic fallacy.  I am not advocating a naïve realism where reality acts on the human mind without personal inquiry nor am I advocating postmodern anti-realism where one can construct whatever type of reality is desired.  I am advocating a form of critical realism.

April 30th, 2013

Constructive Empiricism and Useful Fictions

by Max Andrews

The primary difference between realism, constructive empiricism (CE), and anti-realism is where these approaches rest on the spectrum of ontology and explanation.  Realism takes theoretical commitments of science to be real, and not just [disguised] abbreviations for observational claims, or useful fictions we create to organize observations.[1]  Anti-realism is contrary to realism.  Instead of ‘X is an unobservable and X is real’, a la realism, anti-realism purports, ‘X is an unobservable and X is non-real.’  Both schools will recognize that, yes, X is an unobservable but they disagree on the ontic category.  The category of ontology becomes muddled, if not superfluous, when referring to unobservable entities.  An electron is a useful fiction.  Thus, whatever X, if X is commonly referred to what is considered to be an electron, then X is a useful fiction for understanding the consequent state of affairs. 

January 14th, 2013

Q&A 6: Scientism and Inference to the Best Explanation

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Max,

I want to run something by you to get your opinion.  The KCA and fine-tuning arguments are presented as philosophical/logical arguments with some scientific premises.  Some skeptics that don’t like philosophy will dismiss it and appeal to scientism.

But if we look at something like the detection and declaration of black holes, aren’t they doing the same things?  They aren’t looking at direct observation but instead looking at effects and making inferences to the best explanation for the cause.  If that is accepted as science then the KCA and the fine-tuning arguments should be as well.

I’m not interested in declaring the KCA and fine-tuning to be science but I’m thinking that an analogy such as this might be useful when a skeptic cries god-of-the-gap.

Bill, USA

November 26th, 2012

Call for Papers on the Philosophy of Science and Science

by Max Andrews

This is a call for papers to be submitted to me for online publication with Sententias. I’m looking for about ten papers. Please include an abstract and Turabian format. The paper can be a minimum of 4 pages but there’s not maximal limit. I will compile the papers and put them in the first volume and issue of the Sententias Journal (Free online PDF file). This is just to kickstart more activity for Sententias to take part in. Depending on the feedback and participation we can make this a peer-reviewed process so we can have some respectable esteem. But, for now, we need to start modestly. Theists, atheists, Christians, evolutionists, and intelligent design proponents are all welcome. Here are a few suggested options:

  • What’s a scientific theory?
  • What’s a scientific explanation?
  • Breaking down a particular interpretation of quantum physics.
  • Brak down a model of cosmological origins.
  • Argue for Darwinism
  • read more »

  • May 9th, 2012

    The Difference Between Constructive Empiricism and Anti-Realism

    by Max Andrews

    The primary difference between realism, constructive empiricism (CE), and anti-realism is where these approaches rest on the spectrum of ontology and explanation.  Realism takes theoretical commitments of science to be real, and not just [disguised] abbreviations for observational claims, or useful fictions we create to organize observations.[1]  Anti-realism is contrary to realism.  Instead of ‘X is an unobservable and X is real’, a la realism, anti-realism purports, ‘X is an unobservable and X is non-real.’  Both schools will recognize that, yes, X is an unobservable but they disagree on the ontic category.  The category of ontology becomes muddled, if not superfluous, when referring to unobservable entities.  An electron is a useful fiction.  Thus, whatever X, if X is commonly referred to what is considered to be an electron, then X is a useful fiction for understanding the consequent state of affairs.  CE rests in between these two ideas. C E makes no commitment to the ontic status of the unobservable and can sway the ontic pendulum either way.

    April 22nd, 2012

    Can Scientists Pursue Science Successfully Apart From a Robust Epistemology? Part 2

    by Max Andrews

    For the first part please see: Can Scientists Pursue Science Successfully Apart From a Robust Epistemology? Part 1

    The reason why inferential beliefs are so important is that one’s scientific method cannot be contrary to one’s epistemic method.  With that said, certain models for scientific explanation must have justificatory acceptance.  For example, a deductive form of scientific inquiry cannot be the only means acceptable since one cannot have a deductive form of epistemology since all beliefs would be self-justified and self-preserved (at least this would not account for a robust epistemology).

    Such methods are derived from the use of abductive reasoning.  The American philosopher and logician Charles Sanders Peirce first described abduction.  He noted that, unlike inductive reasoning, in which a universal law or principle is established from repeated observations of the same phenomena, and unlike deductive reasoning, in which a particular fact is deduced by applying a general law to another particular fact or case, abductive reasoning infers unseen facts, events, or causes in the past from clues or facts in the present.[1]

    April 21st, 2012

    Can Scientists Pursue Science Successfully Apart From a Robust Epistemology? Part 1

    by Max Andrews

    A robust epistemology is a sufficient condition for a successful pursuit of scientific inquiry.  There are many other factors and conditions that must be met for science but a vigorous epistemic model for how one pursues scientific inquiry is needed; otherwise, there may be sufficient reasons to doubt not only the conclusions of the scientific inquiry but as well as the pool of data, which must be assessed appropriately.  The scientist is more than welcome to pursue an empiricist model for his epistemology, though strict [naturalistic] empiricism is not very robust, but it must have certain allowances for metaphysical import—perhaps more rationalistic.

    I believe the best way to construct a robust epistemology and scientific method is to be a realist.  What I mean by this is that the external reality is how it appears to be to an observer making an epistemic inquiry, the measurements from science accurately depicts reality.  This is in contrast to instrumentalism/anti-realism, which suggests that our inquiry of the world, scientifically, do not accurately depict reality but as useful fictions.  An instrumentalist is more concerned about data fitting theories and predictions than with an accurate depiction of reality.