Constructivism, Realism, and Philosophical Method
Boyd (Richard)
Source: Earman (John), Ed. - Inference, Explanation and Other Philosophical Frustrations
Paper - Abstract

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Editor’s Introduction1

  1. The theories of modern science tell stories of unobservable entities and processes. Scientific realists contend that these stories are not to be read as fairy tales and that observational and experimental evidence favorable to a theory is to be taken as evidence that the theory gives us a literally true picture of the world.
  2. Richard Boyd, one of the leading exponents of scientific realism, has in the past been concerned to combat the logical empiricists and their heirs who (with some notable exceptions such as Hans Reichenbach) contend that scientific theories are to be read instrumentally or else that we are never warranted in accepting a theory except as being adequate to saving the phenomena. Here Boyd is concerned with the more elusive and insidious opponent of realism who contends that the very notion of "the world" to which theories can succeed or fail in corresponding is a delusion since science is the social construction of reality.
  3. Some forms of constructivism have been successfully answered; for example, those that take their cue from Kuhnian incommensurability can be rejected on the basis of a causal theory of reference. Other more subtle forms of constructivism remain to be answered. Boyd's contribution is aimed at identifying the most interesting of these forms and showing that the "philosophical package" in which they come wrapped cannot be reconciled with the content and procedures of science.


Part II - Thories and Explanations

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Taken from "Earman (John) - Inference, Explanation and Other Philosophical Frustrations: Introduction".

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