Inference to the Best Explanation and Scientific Realism
Graduate Seminar, Fall 2008
|PHL552||531 Lattimore Hall||Tuesdays, 2:00pm to 4:40pm|
In recent years the dispute between scientific realists and antirealists has reached something of an impasse. On one hand there have been a number of attempts to dissolve the dispute, while on the other hand there have been an increasing number of attempts to provoke a shift from global disputes concerning science as a whole to local disputes concerning particular scientific theories. This seminar will trace one important strand through these trends—the dispute over the rôle of inference to the best explanation. The first part of the course will be an examination of explanatory considerations in theory assessment, and the second part of the course will be an application of these considerations to the dispute between scientific realism and antirealism.
The reading for the course will mostly be journal papers, but the following book will also be used heavily:
Peter Lipton, Inference to the Best Explanation, 2nd Edition, Routledge, London, 2004. [AddAll]
Lecture One (Tuesday 2 September)
No reading—initial class discussion.
Lecture Two (Tuesday 9 September)
Lecture Three (Tuesday 16 September)
Lecture Four (Tuesday 23 September)
Lipton (Chapter 3).
This is the paper I claim provides us with a way to flesh out White's argument in §3.3 (see especially the caveat in fn. 19, p. 18).
Lecture Five (Tuesday 30 September)
Lipton (Chapters 4 and 5).
Lecture Six (Tuesday 7 October)
Lipton (Chapter 7).
Day, Timothy and Kincaid, Harold. 1994. “Putting Inference to the Best Explanation in its Place”, in Synthese, Vol. 98, No. 2, February 1994, pp. 271–295.
Okasha, Samir. 2000. “Van Fraassen's Critique of Inference to the Best Explanation”, in Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part A, Vol. 31, No. 4, December 2000, pp. 691–710.
Lecture Seven (Tuesday 14 October)
Lipton (Chapter 9).
Lecture Eight (Tuesday 21 October)
Stanford, P. Kyle. 2003. “Pyrrhic Victories for Scientific Realism”, in The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 100, No. 11, November 2003, pp. 553–572.
Lecture Nine (Tuesday 28 October)
Roush, Sherrilyn. 2009. “Optimism about the Pessimistic Induction”, in P. D. Magnus and Jacob Busch (Eds), New Waves in Philosophy of Science, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2009. [Handout]
Lecture Ten (Tuesday 4 November)
Lipton (Chapter 10).
Lecture Eleven (Tuesday 11 November)
Lecture Twelve (Tuesday 18 November)
Lipton (Chapter 11).
Psillos, Stathis. 2006. “Thinking About the Ultimate Argument for Realism”, in Colin Cheyne and John Worrall (Eds), Rationality and Reality: Conversations with Alan Musgrave, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Vol. 20, Springer, Dordrecht, 2006, pp. 133–156. [PDF]
Lecture Thirteen (Tuesday 25 November)
Roush, Sherrilyn. 2005. “Real Anti-realism: The Evidential Approach”, in Tracking Truth: Knowledge, Evidence, and Science, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005, pp. 189–224. [Handout]
Stanford, P. Kyle. 2006. “Science without Realism?”, in Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History, and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006, pp. 188–214. [Handout]
Lecture Fourteen (Tuesday 2 December)
Lecture Fifteen (Tuesday 9 December)
Presentations: Sommer and Brian.
Updated: 25 November 2008