Volume 40, Issue Supplement, 2015
Selected Papers from the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy
On Scientific Realism and Naturalism
This paper looks at the current realism/antirealism debate in philosophy of science as a dispute between two objectivist interpretations of modern empirical success: Scientific realism and scientific antirealism. The paper traces the debate to a split in responses to the historicist relativism that gained force in the 1960s; it concentrates on the discussions that led to selectivism, a promising realist strategy that focuses on theory-parts rather than whole theories. The paper examines the merits and difficulties of selectivism and argues for a naturalist approach to its present deficiencies, particularly regarding the need for a more precise identification of theory—parts worthy of realist interpretation.