Scientific realism reinvigorated: How to think about scientific progress and knowledge in the 21st century


Abstract: Questions about the nature of scientific knowledge and progress are as old as modern science itself. These issues are tackled in the ‘scientific realism’ debate in philosophy of science, which alas cannot currently provide cogent answers due to its impasse and entrenched battle lines. To break the deadlock, and to answer questions of critical cultural importance, a radical rethink of the debate’s key terms is called for. My extensive research provides the materials, with timely potential to culminate in a field-transforming book that can change how we think about science. I argue, in particular, that philosophical analysis of scientific knowledge must be more sensitive to various differences in how scientific theories explain and yield empirical successes. We can break new ground by capturing scientific progress in more case-specific terms, by forgoing much-criticised overly general claims and arguments. I want to reinvigorate the debate by thus rethinking it; synthesise and wrap up 15 years of my research; and publicise these new ideas via public talks, videos, and popular articles.