Scientific realism

The Scientific realism is a realistic position in the epistemology and philosophy of science, stating that a recognizable reality exists that is independent of human thought, and that the confirmation of a scientific theory based on the assumption that this reality looks like this theory that says. In particular, this concerns the claim that the entities over which speaks a confirmed theory, exist objectively.


The Scientific Realism studied philosophy as a justification to provide that the opinion was justified, that scientific theories provide in its application a practically useful description and explanation of processes and structures, as can be found in reality. If a scientific theory is well confirmed, then justifies the assumption that reality is such as the theory predicts it. Converse assumptions would make scientific confirmations and scientific progress to a pure miracle, the so-called (No ) Miracle argument ( No - miracle argument) for scientific realism.

A similar position is of critical realism, but merely assumes that a theory makes statements about how reality is constituted, not to say that the accuracy of these statements may be gained by probation or needs. Another variant of scientific realism represents the structures realism, whose main thesis is that the theoretical concepts of the best and most mature theories are not related to representational, but structural entities.

Criticism by anti-realist arguments

The Scientific realist assumes that empirical adequacy of a theory is a result of their truth, and the reference to its central theoretical terms. Now there were in the past theories that were accepted, empirically adequate, but based on current knowledge were definitely wrong. Two prominent examples are the so-called phlogiston theory of chemistry and postulated by Fresnel ether to explain optical phenomena. In his article Confutation of Convergent Realism Larry Laudan criticized on scientific realism, the optimistic assumption progressively more accurate and more comprehensive knowledge of the facts and of scientific progress as a systematic convergence increasingly empirical closer explanations for its so-called pessimistic induction, the conclusion of the falsity of past theories on the falsity of today's theories. According to him, self-proclaimed realists are by no means to explain the situation, why even scientific theories that were based not on the "true" conditions or terms that may be successful or are they for a long time as well. On the contrary, there would be a variety of scientific theories whose initial conditions have now been determined as demonstrably false. Laudan inter alia, to the original version of Dalton's atomic theory or Bohr's theses on the electron, which, like the continental drift theory of Alfred Wegener, were completely unsuccessful flawed in important respects, and partly over longer periods. The realism would not be able to interpret the success of theses whose conditions or basic concepts are by no means confirmed. In the sense of "realism" against their own epistemological claim was not able to explain actual mechanisms in the scientific enterprise. On the contrary, among others, according to Gerhard Lenski and Robert Merton's theories have since the 18th century to the present day religious beliefs and religiously motivated behavior patterns have a strong influence on many areas of government and society. In particular, Protestantism and pietism therefore essential foundations for the emergence and development of scientific perspectives have created.

Bas van Fraassen, one of the main proponents of scientific anti-realism, criticized in The scientific image, the no- miracles argument. According to this argument every anti-realist conception of the nature of scientific knowledge would lead to scientific knowledge merely a "miracle" would be - now there is scientific progress and are miracles assumptions can not be justified rationally ( as the conditions of the argument ), so must the scientific realism be true.

According to van Fraassen empirical adequacy is the only criterion for an acceptable theory. This therefore must not be true, because it can make statements in the field of postulated by their (seemingly) theoretical entities, they would suggest realistic, would be completely wrong. In addition, van Fraassen advocates a pluralism acceptable theories.

Hilary Putnam has different fixations of metaphysical realism criticized, including the view that there is a "ready made ​​world" or a privileged conceptual scheme or empirical evidence for a convergence of different scientific theories. Nevertheless, Putnam has always remained a scientific realist.