Expanding Our Grasp: Causal Knowledge and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives

Egg, Matthias (2016). Expanding Our Grasp: Causal Knowledge and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 67(1), pp. 115-141. Oxford University Press 10.1093/bjps/axu025

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I argue that scientific realism, insofar as it is only committed to those scientific posits of which we have causal knowledge, is immune to Kyle Stanford’s argument from unconceived alternatives. This causal strategy (previously introduced, but not worked out in detail, by Anjan Chakravartty) is shown not to repeat the shortcomings of previous realist responses to Stanford’s argument. Furthermore, I show that the notion of causal knowledge underlying it can be made sufficiently precise by means of conceptual tools recently introduced into the debate on scientific realism. Finally, I apply this strategy to the case of Jean Perrin’s experimental work on the atomic hypothesis, disputing Stanford’s claim that the problem of unconceived alternatives invalidates a realist interpretation of this historical episode.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Philosophy
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Philosophy > Theoretical Philosophy

UniBE Contributor:

Egg, Matthias

Subjects:

100 Philosophy
100 Philosophy > 120 Epistemology

ISSN:

0007-0882

Publisher:

Oxford University Press

Language:

English

Submitter:

Matthias Peter Egg

Date Deposited:

25 May 2016 15:34

Last Modified:

14 Oct 2016 02:30

Publisher DOI:

10.1093/bjps/axu025

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.80567

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/80567

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