The Philosophy Of Science Essay

2532 words - 10 pages

The study of the philosophy of science explores whether scientific results are actually the study of truth. Scientific realism is an area of study in the philosophy of science and has a contrasting view called anti realism. The debate between the two revolves around their disagreement between the existence of an external world. A scientific realist believes that an external world exists independent of our minds whereas the anti realist, or the idealists, believes that no such world exists outside of ourselves. A stick underwater seems bent while railway tracks seem to meet in the distance, when they do not. Our vision plays tricks on us and therefore the phenomena appears misleading. Seeing as there are doubtful sources to our experiences we cannot know anything derived from our senses. Moreover, the anti realist believes that matter, objects and the world, all exist as electric signals occurring in our brain. To illustrate, envision yourself eating a strawberry. You do not actually face the strawberry but only its perception in the brain. Simply put, the fruit is nothing but the interpretation of electrical signals, regarding the smell, taste, shape and so on. More importantly, the two differ on their interpretation of scientific theories that refer to unobservable entities. A scientific realist maintains the belief that unobservable entities, which make up many scientific theories, are in fact real world entities. Meaning, a berry is a berry regardless of what we perceive it to be. Anti realists state that theories distort reality by building on premises that are only seen indirectly and therefore should never be considered true. Hence the disagreements, the anti realist claims that the only thing that exist in reality are our ideas, spiritual and mental, and deny the existence of material objects, especially ones that are unseen. Thus creating a world via electric signals to our brain. While the realist accepts that unobservable phenomena do exist and does not consider a theory to be a fact but merely as approximately true.
James Robert Brown of the University of Toronto is a realist. Realism, as affirmed by Brown, is determined by scientific success, which is best determined by theories that, first, “are able to organize and unify a great variety of unknown phenomena.” (Brown, p.133). Second, latter theories systemize data more accurately than former, lastly and most importantly “ a statistically significant number of novel predictions pan out,” (Brown, p.134).
In his work, explaining the success of science, Brown tries to describe scientific success whilst defending scientific theories by contesting anti realist ideas. Throughout the paper he mentions various anti realists along with their work regarding the succession of a theory. Bas Van Fraassen, one of most influential anti realists, suggests that it is not at all surprising that theories are successful, given that any unsuccessful theory is rejected. He believes that the success...

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