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Structural Realism versus Standard Scientific Realism: The Case of Phlogiston and Dephlogisticated Air

PhilSci Pittsburgh

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Field Value
 
Title Structural Realism versus Standard Scientific Realism: The Case of Phlogiston and Dephlogisticated Air
 
Creator Ladyman, James
 
Subject Theory Change
Theory/Observation
History of Science Case Studies
Realism/Anti-realism
 
Description The aim of this paper is to revisit the phlogiston theory to see what can be learned from it about the relationship between scientific realism, approximate truth and successful reference. It is argued that phlogiston theory did to some extent correctly describe the causal or nomological structure of the world, and that some of its central terms can be regarded as referring. However, it is concluded that the issue of whether or not theoretical terms successfully refer is not the key to formulating the appropriate form of scientific realism in response to arguments from theory change, and that the case of phlogiston theory is shown to be readily accommodated by ontic structural realism.
 
Date 2009-01-01
 
Type Conference Paper
 
Identifier http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00004658/
 
Format pdf http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00004658/01/Ladyman.pdf