The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism (Hardback) book cover

The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism

Edited by Juha Saatsi

© 2018 – Routledge

520 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138888852
pub: 2017-12-19
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Scientific Realism is one of the most fundamental notions in the philosophy of science and is emerging as a major topic across academic disciplines. The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism is an outstanding reference source to the key topics, problems and debates in this exciting subject and is the first collection of its kind. Comprising over thirty-five chapters by a team of international contributors the Handbook is divided into five parts:

  • Historical development of the realist stance
  • Classic debate: core issues and positions
  • Perspectives on contemporary debates
  • The realism debate in disciplinary context
  • Broader reflections

Within these sections central issues, debates and problems are examined, questions covered include: what is scientific realism? How has the scientific realism debate evolved since the heyday of logical empiricism? What are the arguments for and against scientific realism? What is the relevance of the notion of perspective and pluralism on realism? What are the issues of realism in the context of scientific modelling? What is the relevance of the social dimension of knowledge? What discipline specific issues are there with scientific realism?

The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism is essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy of science.


'This is a very useful overview of the state of the art in the debate about scientific realism, a perfect guide for both scholars and graduate students in metaphysics and philosophy of science.'

Michael Esfeld, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Table of Contents



List of Contributors

Introduction: Scientific realism in the 21st century – Juha Saatsi


Historical development of the realist stance

1 Realism and logical empiricism – Matthias Neuber

2 The realist turn in the philosophy of science – Stathis Psillos


Classic debate: core issues and positions

3 Success of science as a motivation for realism – K. Brad Wray

4 Historical challenges to realism – Peter Vickers

5 Underdetermination – Dana Tulodziecki

6 Kuhn, relativism and realism – Howard Sankey

7 Instrumentalism – Darrell P. Rowbottom

8 Empiricism – Otavio Bueno

9 Structural Realism and its Variants – Ioannis Votsis

10 Entity realism – Matthias Egg

11 Truthlikeness and Approximate Truth – Gerhard Schurz


Perspectives on contemporary debates

12 Global vs. local arguments for realism – Lea Henderson

13 Perspectivism – Michela Massimi

14Pluralism and scientific realism – Hasok Chang

15 Scientific progress – Ilkka Niiniluoto

16 Realism and the limits of explanatory reasoning – Juha Saatsi

17 Unconceived alternatives and uniformitarian instrumentalism – P. Kyle Stanford

18 Realism, Antirealism, Epistemic Stances, and Voluntarism – Anjan Chakravartty

19 Modeling and Realism: Strange Bedfellows? – Arnon Levy

20 Success and Scientific Realism: Considerations from the Philosophy of Simulation – Eric Winsberg and Ali Mirza

21 Scientific realism and social epistemology – Martin Kusch


The realism debate in disciplinary context

22 Scientific Realism and High Energy Physics – Richard Dawid

23 Getting Real about Quantum Mechanics – Laura Ruetsche

24 Scientific Realism and Primordial Cosmology – Jeremy Butterfield

25 Three Kinds of Realism about Historical Science – Derek Turner

26 Scientific Realism and the Earth Sciences – Teru Miyake

27 Scientific realism and chemistry – Paul Needham

28 Realism about cognitive science – Mark Sprevak

29 Scientific Realism and Economics – Harold Kincaid


Broader reflections

30 Realism and theories of truth – Jamin Asay

31 Realism and metaphysics – Steven French

32 Mathematical realism and naturalism – Mary Leng

33 Scientific realism and epistemology – Alexander Bird

34 Natural kinds for the scientific realist – Matthew Slater

About the Editor

Juha Saatsi is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science, University of Leeds, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Handbooks in Philosophy

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