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.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Scientific realism in the 21st century – Juha Saatsi
PART 1: Historical development of the realist stance
1. Realism and logical empiricism – Matthias Neuber
2. The realist turn in the philosophy of science – Stathis Psillos
PART 2: 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
PART 3: Perspectives on contemporary debates
12. Global vs. local arguments for realism – Leah Henderson
13. Perspectivism – Michela Massimi
14. Pluralism 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
PART 4: 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
PART 5: 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.
Juha Saatsi is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, University of Leeds, UK.
'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