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A Pragmatic Case against Pragmatic Scientific Realism
Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie
Vol. 38, No. 2 (November, 2007), pp. 299-313
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20722493
Page Count: 15
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Pragmatism, Instrumentalism, Truth, Electrons, Scientific realism, Pragmatic justifications, Empirical adequacy, Scientific belief, Unobservables, Rationality
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Pragmatic Scientific Realism (PSR) urges us to take up the realist aim or the goal of truth although we have good reason to think that the goal can neither be attained nor approximated. While Newton-Smith thinks that pursuing what we know we cannot achieve is clearly irrational, Rescher disagrees and contends that pursuing an unreachable goal can be rational on pragmatic grounds—if in pursuing the unreachable goal one can get indirect benefits. I have blocked this attempt at providing a pragmatic justification for the realist aim of PSR on precisely the same pragmatic grounds—since there is a competing alternative to PSR, and the alternative can provide whatever indirect benefits PSR can offer while being less risky than it is, prudential reasoning favours the alternative to PSR. This undermines the pragmatic case for the realist aim of science since the instrumentalist alternative does not aim at the truth.
Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie © 2007 Springer