•  188
    Replacing recipe realism
    Synthese 194 (9): 3233-3244. 2017.
    Many realist writings exemplify the spirit of ‘recipe realism’. Here I characterise recipe realism, challenge it, and propose replacing it with ‘exemplar realism’. This alternative understanding of realism is more piecemeal, robust, and better in tune with scientists’ own attitude towards their best theories, and thus to be preferred.
  • Mathematics and reality (review)
    Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 17 (2): 267-268. 2011.
  •  66
    Eclectic realism—the proof of the pudding: a reply to Busch
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2): 273-276. 2008.
    Eclectic realism is defended against the criticism in Busch by clarifying its terminological and conceptual basis, and by comparing it with structural and semirealism.Keywords: Realism; Pessimistic induction; Augustin Jean Fresnel; Eclectic realism; Semi-realism.
  •  630
    On Explanations from Geometry of Motion
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1). 2018.
    This paper examines explanations that turn on non-local geometrical facts about the space of possible configurations a system can occupy. I argue that it makes sense to contrast such explanations from "geometry of motion" with causal explanations. I also explore how my analysis of these explanations cuts across the distinction between kinematics and dynamics.
  •  105
    Structuralism with and without causation
    Synthese 194 (7): 2255-2271. 2017.
    This paper explores the status of causation in structuralist metaphysics of physics. What role (if any) does causation play in understanding ‘structure’ in ontological structural realism? I address this question by examining, in a structuralist setting, arguments for and against the idea that fundamental physics deals, perhaps exclusively, with causal properties. I will argue (against Esfeld, Dorato and others) that a structuralist interpretation of fundamental physics should diverge from ‘causa…Read more
  •  2825
    The literature on the indispensability argument for mathematical realism often refers to the ‘indispensable explanatory role’ of mathematics. I argue that we should examine the notion of explanatory indispensability from the point of view of specific conceptions of scientific explanation. The reason is that explanatory indispensability in and of itself turns out to be insufficient for justifying the ontological conclusions at stake. To show this I introduce a distinction between different kinds …Read more
  •  112
    Inconsistency and scientific realism
    Synthese 191 (13): 2941-2955. 2014.
    I erect a framework within the semantic view of theories for explaining the empirical success of internally inconsistent models and theories, with scientific realism in mind. The framework is an instance of the ‘content-driven’ approach to inconsistency, advocated by both Norton (Philos Sci 54:327–350, 1987) and Smith (Stud Hist Philos Sci 19:429–445, 1988a, In: Fine A, Leplin J (eds) PSA1988, 1988b), whose ideas my analysis aims to clarify and substantiate.
  •  250
    This is an introduction to the volume "Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations", edited by A. Reutlinger and J. Saatsi (OUP, forthcoming in 2017). Explanations are very important to us in many contexts: in science, mathematics, philosophy, and also in everyday and juridical contexts. But what is an explanation? In the philosophical study of explanation, there is long-standing, influential tradition that links explanation intimately to causation: we oft…Read more
  •  110
    Reconsidering the Fresnel–Maxwell theory shift: how the realist can have her cake and EAT it too
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (3): 509-538. 2005.
    This paper takes another look at a case study which has featured prominently in a variety of arguments for rival realist positions. After critically reviewing the previous commentaries of the theory shift that took place in the transition from Fresnel’s ether to Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory of optics, it will defend a slightly different reading of this historical case study. Central to this task is the notion of explanatory approximate truth, a concept which must be carefully analysed to beg…Read more
  •  368
    Models, Idealisations, and Realism
    In F. Sterpetti, E. Ippoloti & T. Nickles (eds.), Models and Inferences in Science, Springer. 2016.
    I explore a challenge that idealisations pose to scientific realism and argue that the realist can best accommodate idealisations by capitalising on certain modal features of idealised models that are underwritten by laws of nature.
  •  11
    Form vs. Content-driven Arguments for Realism
    In P. D. Magnus & Jacob Busch (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Science, Palgrave-macmillan. 2009.
    I offer a meta-level analysis of realist arguments for the reliability of ampliative reasoning about the unobservable. We can distinguish form-driven and content-driven arguments for realism: form-driven arguments appeal to the form of inductive inferences, whilst content-driven arguments appeal to their specific content. After regimenting the realism debate in these terms, I will argue that the content-driven arguments are preferable. Along the way I will discuss how my analysis relates to John…Read more
  •  78
    A one volume reference guide To The latest research in Philosophy of Science, written by an international team of leading scholars in the field.
  •  234
    The Enhanced Indispensability Argument: Representational versus Explanatory Role of Mathematics in Science
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (1): 143-154. 2011.
    The Enhanced Indispensability Argument (Baker [ 2009 ]) exemplifies the new wave of the indispensability argument for mathematical Platonism. The new wave capitalizes on mathematics' role in scientific explanations. I will criticize some analyses of mathematics' explanatory function. In turn, I will emphasize the representational role of mathematics, and argue that the debate would significantly benefit from acknowledging this alternative viewpoint to mathematics' contribution to scientific expl…Read more
  •  347
    On the pessimistic induction and two fallacies
    Philosophy of Science 72 (5): 1088-1098. 2005.
    The Pessimistic Induction from falsity of past theories forms a perennial argument against scientific realism. This paper considers and rebuts two recent arguments—due to Lewis (2001) and Lange (2002)—to the conclusion that the Pessimistic Induction (in its best known form) is fallacious. It re-establishes the dignity of the Pessimistic Induction by calling to mind the basic objective of the argument, and hence restores the propriety of the realist program of responding to PMI by undermining one…Read more
  •  13
    This paper erects a framework for analyzing some idealized models as (what I call) inferentially veridical representations. It adopts a version of the semantic view of theories that focuses on properties, and mobilizes conceptual resources associated with properties and the way that properties are related in various ways. The outcome is an elaboration of some aspects of the analysis of Jones (2005).
  •  14
    Critical Commentaries on Critical Rationalism (review)
    Metascience 16 (2): 271-275. 2007.
  •  381
    Dynamical Systems Theory and Explanatory Indispensability
    Philosophy of Science 84 (5): 892-904. 2017.
    I examine explanations’ realist commitments in relation to dynamical systems theory. First I rebut an ‘explanatory indispensability argument’ for mathematical realism from the explanatory power of phase spaces (Lyon and Colyvan 2007). Then I critically consider a possible way of strengthening the indispensability argument by reference to attractors in dynamical systems theory. The take-home message is that understanding of the modal character of explanations (in dynamical systems theory) can und…Read more
  •  160
    We reassess Woodward’s counterfactual account of explanation in relation to regularity explananda. Woodward presents an account of causal explanation. We argue, by using an explanation of Kleiber’s law to illustrate, that the account can also cover some noncausal explanations. This leads to a tension between the two key aspects of Woodward’s account: the counterfactual aspect and the causal aspect. We explore this tension and make a case for jettisoning the causal aspect as constitutive of expla…Read more
  • M. Leng, Mathematics and reality
    Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 17 (2): 267. 2011.
  •  352
    Form-driven vs. content-driven arguments for realism
    In P. D. Magnus & Jacob Busch (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Science, Palgrave-macmillan. 2010.
    I offer a meta-level analysis of realist arguments for the reliability of ampliative reasoning about the unobservable. We can distinguish form-driven and content-driven arguments for realism: form-driven arguments appeal to the form of inductive inferences, whilst content-driven arguments appeal to their specific content. After regimenting the realism debate in these terms, I will argue that the content-driven arguments are preferable. Along the way I will discuss how my analysis relates to John…Read more
  •  11
    Travelling in New Directions
    In Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Science, Continuum. pp. 337. 2011.
    This chapter discusses some emerging trends, new directions, and outstanding issues in philosophy of science. The first section places contemporary philosophy of science in context by considering its relationship to analytic philosophy at large, to the history of science, and to science itself. The subsequent sections will then take a look at a selection of interesting trends emerging from current research, and some important issues calling for further work. The presentation is inevitably colour…Read more
  •  84
    The epistemic conception of scientific progress equates progress with accumulation of scientific knowledge. I argue that the epistemic conception fails to fully capture scientific progress: theoretical progress, in particular, can transcend scientific knowledge in important ways. Sometimes theoretical progress can be a matter of new theories ‘latching better onto unobservable reality’ in a way that need not be a matter of new knowledge. Recognising this further dimension of theoretical progress …Read more
  •  49
    This is a revised edition of Hans Radder’s Habermas-inspired study of scientific experimentation and realism. The previous English edition (1988) has been out of print since 2004 (The book first appeared in Dutch in 1984). The author (together with the editors of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science) has deemed it worthy of resuscitation. Perhaps it is. There are certainly a number of lasting elements of continuing interest, some of which indeed strike to the heart of the contemporary…Read more
  •  96
    Living in harmony: Nominalism and the explanationist argument for realism
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1). 2007.
    According to the indispensability argument, scientific realists ought to believe in the existence of mathematical entities, due to their indispensable role in theorising. Arguably the crucial sense of indispensability can be understood in terms of the contribution that mathematics sometimes makes to the super-empirical virtues of a theory. Moreover, the way in which the scientific realist values such virtues, in general, and draws on explanatory virtues, in particular, ought to make the realist …Read more
  •  1109
    Explanation and explanationism in science and metaphysics
    In Matthew Slater & Zanja Yudell (eds.), Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science: New Essays, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    This chapter examines the status of inference to the best explanation in naturalistic metaphysics. The methodology of inference to the best explanation in metaphysics is studied from the perspective of contemporary views on scientific explanation and explanatory inferences in the history and philosophy of science. This reveals serious shortcomings in prevalent attempts to vindicate metaphysical "explanationism" by reference to similarities between science and naturalistic metaphysics. This cri…Read more
  •  137
    Mathematics and Program Explanations
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3): 579-584. 2012.
    Aidan Lyon has recently argued that some mathematical explanations of empirical facts can be understood as program explanations. I present three objections to his argument
  •  139
    This paper discusses three shortcomings of the current state of the debate regarding historical evidence against scientific realism. Attending to these issues will direct the debate away from over-generalising wholesale arguments.
  •  111
    Miraculous Success? Inconsistency and Untruth in Kirchhoff’s Diffraction Theory
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (1): 29-46. 2011.
    Kirchhoff’s diffraction theory is introduced as a new case study in the realism debate. The theory is extremely successful despite being both inconsistent and not even approximately true. Some habitual realist proclamations simply cannot be maintained in the face of Kirchhoff’s theory, as the realist is forced to acknowledge that theoretical success can in some circumstances be explained in terms other than truth. The idiosyncrasy (or otherwise) of Kirchhoff’s case is considered
  •  314
    Historical inductions, Old and New
    Synthese 1-15. 2015.
    I review prominent historical arguments against scientific realism to indicate how they display a systematic overshooting in the conclusions drawn from the historical evidence. The root of the overshooting can be located in some critical, undue presuppositions regarding realism. I will highlight these presuppositions in connection with both Laudan’s ‘Old induction’ and Stanford’s New induction, and then delineate a minimal realist view that does without the problematic presuppositions.