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Research Seminar in the Philosophy of Natural Sciences

The Hollow Core Of Anti-Realism

  • Wednesday, 19 October 2:00-4:00 pm
  • Roman Frigg/Stephan Hartmann/Philip Thonemann

In the core of traditional anti-realism are two propositions: (a) The claims to be excluded from physics form a useably clear type (b) their exclusion is epistemically justified. But those claims that might have formed a type cannot be excluded justifiably, while those whose exclusion might have been justified do not form a type. This destroys the core; work on its protective belt, and further investigation of its relationship with realism, while entertaining, is pointless. We can still criticise realism, but anti-realism is not an alternative.

Haunting its ruins, hiding in mists of conceptual analysis, believing he is the lonely torch-bearer of a great tradition, an insubstantial figure flits, reduced to insisting - without justification - that even if unobservables are thoroughly believable, the aim of physics does not embrace them. He requires not criticism but exorcism.