Criticism Of Scientific Realism

745 Words3 Pages
In 1961, after writing his book The Structure of Scientific Knowledge, Thomas Kuhn revolutionized philosophy of science. His views not only altogether obliterated logical empiricism, but also originated two new branches in philosophy of science: Social constructivism, and Scientific realism. The latter grew to become quite popular within the scientific community. Scientific realism holds the view that science essentially tells us the truth about the world. More specifically, it holds the idea that mature, empirically successful scientific theories tell us the truth (or approximate truth) about nature and the world. The primary aim of science, according to scientific realism, is objective truth, as opposed to mere empirical success. One of…show more content…
Amongst those, there is the criticism made by constructive empiricist (anti-realist) philosopher Bas van Fraassen. van Fraassen claims there is no need to appeal to a miracle, or to the truth of scientific theories, in order to explain the empirical success of science. He refutes the idea that scientific theories are successful because they have been specially designed to capture the truth, rather, he says empirically successful theories exist because science aims at empirical success. Non-empirically successful theories simply do not survive long. His NMA criticism can be understood through an analogy to the evolution of organisms. There are many organisms out there, but only well adapted organisms survive. The same can be said about theories. Science doesn’t necessarily knows the truth. It just has multiple theories, and then one eventually corresponds to the regularities of nature, and that is how science acquires empirically successful theories. All the other theories, that turn out to be empirically inadequate, simply do not survive. So although there is no miracle involved in science’s empirical success, truth is not is not the sole assistant either. He is substantially saying that science has at its disposal many different theories, and upon testing their empirically adequacy, they conclude if it is true or not. That would entail that the aim of science is empirical success first, and truth…show more content…
The PI, in sum states that science was full of mature empirically successful theories that were later proven to be false. Therefore, inductively, we can infer that our own mature empirically successful theories will be proven to be false. That is a problem for scientific realism because van Fraassen argues that scientists do not achieve success because they know the truth, but rather, because they empirically test theories until they find one that corresponds to the world, and then such theory becomes true. According to the PI, however, those empirical successful theories will soon be proven to be false - which means all the realists tested and accepted as true will be proven false. From that, we can take that science does not know nor will achieve the
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