Whose Structure is it Anyway? Ramseyfication and the Pessimistic Meta-Induction

When:13 May 2014, 12:30pm - 2pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:Paul Dicken, UNSW Australia
Paul Dicken

Philosophy Seminar

Abstract: Structural Realism has become an increasingly popular position in the contemporary philosophy of science, motivated largely in response to the Pessimistic Meta-Induction and challenge posed by the historical track-record of our scientific theories. The plausibility of the position however depends upon its related account of structure, and here increasingly large numbers of structural realists have availed themselves to a technical device known as the Ramsey Sentence. Such a move of course raises difficulties of its own, and there is now a fully blown research industry associated with the so-called Newman Objection to the effect that Ramseyfication is trivial. In the ensuing excitement, many seem to have lost sight of the underlying philosophical issues that motivated this move in the first place. In this talk, I raise a simple dilemma for John Worrall's articulation of structural realism, and argue that his response to the Newman Objection is actually in tension with the way in which he wishes to respond to the Pessimistic Meta-Induction.

Bio: Paul Dicken completed his PhD at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. He has held research positions at the University of Cambridge and the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, and is now an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of New South Wales. His first book, Constructive Empiricism: Epistemology and the Philosophy of Science, was published with Palgrave Macmillan in 2010; his second book, A Critical Introduction to Scientific Realism, is under contract with Bloomsbury.

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