Stanford’s argument against scientific realism focuses on theories, just as many earlier arguments from inconceivability have. However, there are possible arguments against scientific realism involving unconceived (or inconceivable) entities of different types: observations, models, predictions, explanations, methods, instruments, experiments, and values. This paper charts such arguments. In combination, they present the strongest challenge yet to scientific realism.
Bibliographical noteMy work on this paper was supported by: the Research Grants Council, Hong Kong (‘The Instrument of Science’, Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship); and also by the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University, in association with the European Union (COFUND Senior Research Fellowship). My thanks to two anonymous referees for several helpful comments.
- Kyle Stanford
- Scientific progress
- Scientific realism
- Unconceived alternatives
- Underdetermination of theories by evidence