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A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable [Hardcover]

Anjan Chakravartty

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Book Description

Nov. 5 2007 0521876494 978-0521876490 1
Scientific realism is the view that our best scientific theories give approximately true descriptions of both observable and unobservable aspects of a mind-independent world. Debates between realists and their critics are at the very heart of the philosophy of science. Anjan Chakravartty traces the contemporary evolution of realism by examining the most promising strategies adopted by its proponents in response to the forceful challenges of antirealist sceptics, resulting in a positive proposal for scientific realism today. He examines the core principles of the realist position, and sheds light on topics including the varieties of metaphysical commitment required, and the nature of the conflict between realism and its empiricist rivals. By illuminating the connections between realist interpretations of scientific knowledge and the metaphysical foundations supporting them, his book offers a compelling vision of how realism can provide an internally consistent and coherent account of scientific knowledge.

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"The level of ambition is high, and in my opinion Chakravartty achieves what he aims at....Regardless of whether one is ultimately persuaded by the arguments presented in this book, it is a must-buy for anyone who is serious about the realist/anti-realist debate, as well as for anyone interested in the issue of the metaphysics of science."
--Jacob Busch, University of St Andrews, The Philosophical Quarterly


"Chakravartty embraces parts of entity realism and structural realism, but this is only the beginning. The justification for his semirealism includes a big dose of metaphysics, namely his accounts of causation and of natural kinds, among other things. Much of the book is given over to very detailed discussion of these issues. In a short review, I cannot hope to do justice to the full richness of Chakravartty's subtle and highly original treatment of these matters. Let me close with a simple recommendation to any who want to read the last word on scientific realism - this is it."
--James Robert Brown, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences


"Chakravartty is clear and engaging in his writing, and charitable and judicious in his arguments with other philosophers. His book is essential reading for those interested in scientific realism or the metaphysics of science."
--James Ladyman, University of Bristol, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Book Description

Anjan Chakravartty traces the contemporary evolution of realism by examining the most promising strategies adopted by its proponents in response to the forceful challenges of antirealist sceptics. His book offers a compelling vision of how realism can provide an internally consistent and coherent account of scientific knowledge.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and Well-Written Oct. 22 2008
By Bradley Monton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book provides an up-to-date look at the scientific realism/anti-realism debate, and provides a new take on that perennial philosphical issue. Specifically, Chakravartty is interested in defending a form of scientific realism, but not a naive sort of scientific realism. He develops a version of scientific realism that is, in part, informed by the new work being done on structural realism (while nevertheless remaining critical of a lot of the structural realists' arguments.) He's also interested in providing a metaphysics for scientific realism, but he tries to provide a metaphysics that the scientific anti-realist would be happy with (or at least, would be more sympathetic to than a standard metaphysics). For example, he believes in natural kinds, but he doesn't think that there's a single correct division of the world into natural kinds.

This novel, well-thought-out, and well-written take on these various issues leads me to recommend this book to anyone interested in current debates in philosophy of science or metaphysics.

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