The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism

1st Edition

Edited by Juha Saatsi


456 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781138888852
pub: 2017-12-01
SAVE ~$46.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203712498
pub: 2017-11-22
from $27.48

FREE Standard Shipping!


Scientific realism is a central, long-standing, and hotly debated topic in philosophy of science. Debates about scientific realism concern the very nature and extent of scientific knowledge and progress. Scientific realists defend a positive epistemic attitude towards our best theories and models regarding how they represent the world that is unobservable to our naked senses. Various realist theses are under sceptical fire from scientific antirealists, e.g. empiricists and instrumentalists. The different dimensions of the ensuing debate centrally connect to numerous other topics in philosophy of science and beyond.

The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism is an outstanding reference source – the first collection of its kind – to the key issues, positions, and arguments in this important topic. Its thirty-four chapters, written by a team of international experts, are 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

In these sections, the core issues and debates presented, analysed, and set into broader historical and disciplinary contexts. The central issues covered include motivations and arguments for realism; challenges to realism from underdetermination and history of science; different variants of realism; the connection of realism to relativism and perspectivism; and the relationship between realism, metaphysics, and epistemology.

The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism is essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy of science. It will also be very useful for anyone interested in the nature and extent of scientific knowledge.


'This is a state-of-the-art overview of 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

"The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realismis indeed and truly an insightful and understandable state-of-the-art presentation of its subject. Though presumably you will be not converted into a realist after reading the whole handbook, it will be harder to resist realist reasoning without further ado. Really recommended."

Adam Tamas Tuboly, Institute of Philosophy, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

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

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings: