HUSAIN SARKAR

ANTI-REALISM AGAINST METHODOLOGY*

In his book, The Scientific Image, as well as in the replies to his critics in The Images of Science, Bas C. van Fraassen argues against methodology as traditionally understood from Bacon down to Rudolf Carnap and Karl Popper. He argues that the aim of science is only to be empirically adequate, and nothing more. A theory is empirically adequate if it can account for all the phenomena, past, present, and future, that are in principle observable by us, the epistemic community. The task of the scientist is only to construct an empirically adequate theory, and is not also one of discovering truths about the unobservable. The realist’s attempt to offer more, he thinks, is a failure. He argues that both the local and global properties of theories, like testability, ad hocness, explanatory power, simplicity, elegance, and unity are not truth-indicative, but are merely of pragmatic value. Thus, theory-selection for research and experiment is simply pragmatic; there is no fact of the matter involved. Such is his anti-realist stand. If van Fraassen is right, then much of the work in methodology is on the wrong track. So I shall provide three counter-arguments. First, I shall argue that van Fraassen’s position is unwarranted even from the limited perspective of his view of the aim of science. For instance, if a theory could account for all the known phenomena – and there is no theory in the history of science that even approximates such a theory – one could not tell that it is empirically adequate. Thus, van Fraassen’s aim of science is no less ideal or utopian than the realist’s aim. There is a second line of counter-argument. Distinguish between theoretical advice and heuristic advice. The theoretical advice of a methodology determines the best current theory; the heuristic advice determines the best current theory to work on for further research and development. Heuristic advice is indispensable for accounting for the growth of science. But van Fraassen is unable to give any such advice since such advice is purely pragmatic. There is no truth of the matter. One can pick and choose any theory one likes. One group may abandon, say, psychoanalysis and astrology (his examples); another group may pursue them vigorously. What is right (not true), says van Fraassen, depends on one’s purposes, needs, and commitments. This view is in no interesting way distinguishSynthese 116: 379–402, 1998. © 1998 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

380

HUSAIN SARKAR

able from the old and despised views of Paul Feyerabend, as developed in his infamous book, Against Method. Third, and finally, I recover the major premises in his arguments and in those of his opponents, the realists. This venture enables me to uncover three central postulates in this debate, which I christen the Empiricist’s Postulate, the Rationalist’s Postulate, and the Skeptic’s Postulate. Van Fraassen must adhere to the Empiricist’s Postulate. But he has given no independent argument to show that that postulate in his argument can itself be supported without invoking the anti-realist’s conclusion. Consequently, the anti-realist, I argue, is in a trilemma: either he espouses the Empiricist’s Postulate in which case I show his view to be circular; or he embraces the Rationalist’s Postulate which is alien to his anti-realist philosophy; or, appearance to the contrary, in truth he opts for the Skeptic’s postulate. I conclude: methodology can be saved from at least one anti-realist who is against it.

1. THE IDEAL AIM

This is the anti-realist aim of science: ‘Science aims to give us theories which are empirically adequate; and acceptance of a theory involves as belief only that it is empirically adequate’ (van Fraassen, 1982: 12). This view is called constructive empiricism. On this view, a scientific theory is not to be defined syntactically but rather semantically, by the class of its models. To say that a theory is empirically adequate is to say that the empirical substructure of at least one model is isomorphic to the phenomena. Simplistically, if what a model of a theory says about the past, present, and future observable world squares exactly with what the actual observable world is like, then the model is empirically adequate. Thus there is a difference between a true theory and one which is merely empirically adequate. If what a theory says about the past, present, and future state of the world squares exactly with what the observable and the unobservable aspects of the world are like, then and only then is the theory true. Hence, a true theory is empirically adequate; but an empirically adequate theory need not be true. Such a view might have pleased Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie. Brodie, the nineteenth century Waynflete Professor of Chemistry at Oxford, railed against those who would use wires and balls for building models of molecules in organic chemistry. At best tools in explaining the observable world, the phenomena, they did not warrant belief in the existence of unobservable entities. Consequently, Brodie developed a system which he called ‘ideal chemistry’, awashed of atoms (Segre, 1980, 7).

are merely pragmatic virtues.ANTI-REALISM AGAINST METHODOLOGY 381 A theory is empirically at least as strong as another theory if for every model of the first theory there is a model of the second theory such that all empirical substructures of the models of the first theory are isomorphic to the empirical substructures of the models of the second theory. the virtues of a theory like its testability. not discover. the theory does not retain its logical strength when some of the models of the theory are discarded. Sophistication lies in the introduction of . The property of truth or the property of verisimilitude. In other words. One shows commitment by working on a theory. the weaker the theory. and unity. the stronger the theory. the greater the number of models. It is simply pragmatic. The prime and sole reason for such artifacts and constructions is the hope that they will assist in proving the theory to be empirically adequate. Theories with some degree of sophistication always carry some “metaphysical baggage”.1 2. Even if a theory were to possess each of these virtues. not replication of the real. but one could not maintain that the choice was rationally compelling. simplicity. and these pragmatic virtues. METAPHYSICS AND HEURISTIC ADVICE When a theory is accepted. corroborability. one could not claim that the theory is truer than the rivals because of these virtues. For instance. is neither true nor false. ‘Empirically minimality is emphatically not to be advocated as a virtue. But. Two theories are empirically equivalent if each is empirically at least as strong as the other. It is not to claim that the theory is true. The reasons for this point are pragmatic. concerning which theories should be pursued for further theoretical research and experimental testing. In our terms. What advice it does give. A theory is empirically minimal if it is empirically equivalent to all logically stronger theories. Working on a theory is an attempt to create and construct. Here is what the anti-realist says. and not merely pragmatic. are simply not linked. fruitfulness. The claims on the theory are more modest than that. on the other. such a commitment is neither true nor false. regularities or to explain hitherto recalcitrant ones. said Brodie. no method can give heuristic advice. The balls and wires used to represent atoms and the forces acting between them are merely human artifacts. while other competing theories did not. it involves not only belief but commitment. on the one hand. The goal of postulating them is to direct the scientific inquiry into channels that lead one either to discover new. The logical strength of a theory is inversely defined by the number of its models: the fewer the models. but observable. it seems to me. One’s choice of a theory may be vindicated eventually.

however. in a model of the one is isomorphic to that in a model of the other. reduced modulo statistical equivalence. Theories equivalent in that sense are empirically equivalent. manageable descriptions of the phenomena. and have unneeded structure which are looked upon as metaphysical baggage.3 or to proffer a solution to the problem of induction. But if and when someone is able to offer a solution to the problem of verisimilitude. a convenient fiction. 1980. the anti-realist offers the hidden variable theories in quantum mechanics. or a convention. But the hidden variable theories of quantum mechanics are riddled with paradoxes. But this baggage is ‘capable of being mobilized should radically new phenomena come to light’ (van Fraassen. Third. then a variety of realist’s methodologies may very well be regarded as powerfully mobilized. and heuristic advice. or to show how subjectivism can be eliminated in the use of Bayes’ theorem. potentially good ones from those that are not where the role and value of a method is entirely defined in terms of the anti-realist’s aim of science. the anti-realist may some day offer a theory of method by which rival methods can be adjudged just as he offers ways by which rival scientific theories may be understood and evaluated. To respond: First. Bacon and . Freudian psychoanalysis. adequate. As an example. Even the useless metaphysical baggage may be intriguing. a method consists of a variety of statements which give theoretical. 1980.2 Second. practical. Just as he rightly condemns scientific creationism. Such a theory of method will surely distinguish hopeless methods from powerful ones. because of its potentialities for future use’ (van Fraassen. since metaphysical or theoretical statements are capable of being true or false in scientific theories.382 HUSAIN SARKAR detours via theoretical variables to arrive at useful. 68). Thus they ought not to be reduced to the status of a statement that is merely pragmatic. Where the advice does pay off. there might be methods which do carry metaphysical baggage. methodological statements containing various kinds of advice ought to be regarded as either true or false. not be used when the detour pays off. some does not. some advice pays off. Furthermore. so also will he condemn ancient methods of. each of which may be denied. the advice should not be regarded as mere metaphysical baggage. too. 68). say. it is reserved for those detours which yield no practical gain. The hidden variable theories of quantum mechanics are mathematically equivalent to the orthodox quantum theory in the sense that the algebra of observables. The term “metaphysical baggage” will. of course. The proof that there are no hidden variables rests on a variety of assumptions. and astrology.

They are without doubt the most frequently occurring cases in the history of science. (3) T and T are not empirically adequate. but T explains everything T can and the converse is not true. and not to discover a theory which is true. In what follows. Even so. like the skeptic. that the aim of science is as the constructive empiricist sees it. 1969. Once useful methods. if ever. The central issue: Can we understand the functioning of the brain by understanding the local function of its parts? Frederick Goltz. The rationale for that assumption: I wish to raise questions from within the fold. a professor of physiology at the University of Strasbourg. nor had it lost the sense of . The most interesting cases. they are no longer such and their advice would be just bad metaphysical advice. that the aim of science is merely to construct an empirically adequate theory. it may not be surprising that the anti-realist theory of method will reject the methods of Bacon. Four major operations on the brain of the dog had been performed. As a result. Within reasonable limits. (4) T and T are not empirically adequate. with some overlap. In such cases constructive empiricism has either nothing to offer or adopts the skeptical stand. not a spot on its body had lost its sensibility. that he does not think. the Ptolemaic theory and the Copernican theory. its physical and mental functions had been seriously affected. brought with him the damaged head of a dog. Perhaps all realist methods are undesirable from the anti-realist point of view. 197–218). Each such method will give different pragmatic advice as to which scientific theory should be pursued.ANTI-REALISM AGAINST METHODOLOGY 383 Aristotle. they cannot explain everything that has been observed. Aristotle. have the first possibility. in the sixteenth century. however are surely the last two possibilities. they explain different things. The seventh International Medical Congress met in London in 1881. Thus. (2) T and T explain all the thus-far-observed phenomena equally well. The anti-realist’s theory of method must then distinguish between acceptable anti-realist methods from those that are not. of course. Here are some of the possibilities: (1) T and T are empirically adequate. in the residue there might be a plethora of methods commonly sharing the anti-realist aim of science. that any method is permissible. then of course we cannot rationally choose a theory for further development since the aim of science has been ex hypothesi satisfied. some Bayesians. Rarely do we confront even two theories each of which explains everything that has so far been observed. I am going to assume. Popper. illustrate the second possibility (de Solla Price. not a single muscle was paralyzed. Rarer still do we find two theories that are empirically adequate. Now we never. However. Assuming. namely. only for the sake of argument. it was not blind. and such. But if we do.

so that in the long run it will fulfil the aim of science better than any other rival theory? The better to appreciate the weakness of the anti-realist. normal in other ways. Ferrier displayed two monkeys from which specific parts of the brain had been carefully removed. Ferrier was right: different functions were associated with different parts of the brain. Consequently. and. except for a few dissenters. does not even have a comparable notion in his theory of theory appraisal.or welldefined. nearness to the truth. Which theory of the brain should we pursue. and examine it did. Perhaps. Goltz was right: the brain cannot be understood in terms of the function of its local parts. Nor. Perhaps. they need to compare two false theories to determine which of them better fulfils the aim of science.384 HUSAIN SARKAR smell. and these experiments indicated a contrary conclusion. paralysis of the right arm and leg. Goltz’s and Ferrier’s. by contrast. Ferrier had performed a series of experiments on the brains of monkeys. the group of physiologists were to ask the anti-realist the question. then. ‘Of the two rival hypotheses.4 The only notion he has is the notion ‘empirically adequate’. for further research. But they run afoul of the problem of defining verisimilitude with respect to false theories. which in the long run would be empirically adequate. said David Ferrier. namely. now. ‘Localization of brain function had won the day at the Seventh International Medical Congress. compelling one. simply a sound. At the Congress in London. If one had been armed with an adequate definition of verisimilitude. reasonable. as a consequence. The realists themselves came up with the proof that such a definition was impossible. Ferrier won. The anti-realist. An expert committee was appointed to examine Goltz’s dog and Ferrier’s monkeys. and not just of their empirical adequacies. the other monkey. remained the guiding principle of brain research for more than fifty years’ (Rosenfeld. One monkey suffered. then the evidence at the disposal of the group of physiologists may have enabled them to make a rational choice as to which theory was nearer to the truth and which theory they should pursue. consider first the quandary of the realist. Suppose. Realists wish to speak about the truth or verisimilitude of theories. The experts reported that the damage suffered by the dog was considerably less than Goltz had reported. The choice need not have been infallible. Not so. is he interested in having one. 1985. One historian of science put the consequence of the committee’s decision on the group in this way. or more empirically . let alone a notion that is ill. then. 34). which one should we pursue: in short. At West Riding Lunatic Asylum in 1873. apparently. had lost its sense of hearing. One might say: The group of physiologists asked itself the following question.

cases (3) and (4). even in principle. whether the evidence supports the theory better than it does another theory. What the realist cannot do. He has no term in his vocabulary that could address that query. if two theories. then ‘– is empirically less inadequate than –’ cannot be defined either. is about the relation between theory and evidence: whether the evidence supports the theory. then one cannot rationally compare. or supports a theory more than alternative evidence would have. the judgment of opinion is about us. 1985. are empirically inadequate – as theories most frequently are in the history of science. one believes all and only those propositions (van Fraassen. Hence. unique: the propositions to be believed on the basis of the evidence are a determinate and logically consistent set (for instance. – one cannot say. If one cannot say that. which theory is empirically more adequate than another theory. 277). whether the evidence supports the theory better than it did before. independent of the context of evaluation. In short. A judgement of evidence. and so on. is our philosophical inheritance. he says. evaluate. with given total evidence. The anti-realist’s primary claim is that . The anti-realist is against the following ideal which. on the other hand. But this is never had: for what ineluctably accompanies the latter judgment are pragmatic considerations. the anti-realist cannot do either. and so on. It inevitably introduces pragmatic elements into the theory of confirmation because it necessarily involves the judgment of opinion. the anti-realist rejects the Bayesian view of confirmation as the ideal because that view links the judgment of opinion and the judgement of evidence and abandons the ideal formulated above. The ideal of confirmation is this: (a) (b) objective: it is a relation solely between theory and total body of evidence. and select a theory on which to work. the disjunction of all the theories maximally supported by the evidence). like Goltz’s and Ferrier’s.ANTI-REALISM AGAINST METHODOLOGY 385 adequate?’ The anti-realist could not answer that question. As an illustration. is objective. A judgment of opinion reflects our belief in a theory: whether we believe in it. comparative: not only whether the evidence on the whole supports the theory but also whether it supports one theory more than another. The term that would be required to answer that kind of question would be: ‘– is less empirically inadequate than –’ or ‘– is more empirically adequate than –’. the judgment of evidence about theories. The latter is a judgment anyone can make provided he has the knowledge of the available theories and evidence. whether we believe it to be a better theory than another. whether we believe it to be now better supported by evidence than before.5 A fair conjecture: if ‘verisimilitude’ cannot be defined. 277) (c) The anti-realist then distinguishes between judgment of opinion or credence and judgment of evidence (van Fraassen. namely. 1985. and rationality requires that.

it cannot say. On the anti-realist’s view. Thus. first. says the anti-realist. or more empirically adequate. what is proper to say by way of evaluating the solution and what not. These properties fallibly indicate that such a theory will have a greater chance to prove itself empirically adequate.386 HUSAIN SARKAR no evaluation can be made which does not additionally invoke the criteria of relevance and the standards of comparison for these are not written into the evidence. Suppose. Choice of a theory is dictated by practical considerations. may not be obligatory. the judgment of evidence collapses into the judgment of opinion: all such judgments are judgments about us. This. 1985. and will make different commitments. is the anti-realist view. the property in question to be simplicity. and so on. we are left. what problem one ignores. in short. What problem one selects. following Ferrier’s lead. the anti-realist could not advise a subgroup in the following terms: ‘Pick Ferrier’s theory over Goltz’s for further research because it is simple. 248). One cannot get rid of palmistry or Paracelsus. This. Given their commitment. Consequently. only with the pragmatic alternative. displays nice unity. and cannot be indicative of theories that will prove to be empirically adequate in the long run. and offer a correct way of saying certain things. not from argument and criticism. and no more. will have different pragmatic presuppositions. Such programmes. Consider the possibility of showing a property of a theory to be indicative of empirical adequacy. well-tested. It is difficult. Goltz’s theory’. satisfies the minimal virtue of consistency. There are two ways to respond. will depend on the pragmatic presuppositions of the subgroup to which one belongs. PRAGMATIC PRESUPPOSITIONS The anti-realist places a premium on pragmatic presuppositions. but they are not irrational to follow (van Fraassen. Here is the first response. 3. certain members in the subgroup will espouse Goltz’s theory. how one goes about solving the problem. Local or global properties of theories are merely pragmatic virtues. These will determine what it is correct to say. and the correct way to say it. says the anti-realist. there is no hope of defending the ideal. to see how one can get rid of any theory. than its rival. Others. Such programmes die for lack of people sharing similar pragmatic presuppositions. But since these are rife with pragmatic elements. internally with itself and externally with the facts. One simply has to find enough people to share one’s pragmatic presuppositions and one will have a research programme. Their commitment will make it correct for them to say certain things. . on this view. if not impossible.

second. notwithstanding that there are pragmatic considerations attending them. disciplinary matrix – of scientific theories and argue that historically many theories have satisfied those properties on the basis of which they recommend we use those same properties for judging and evaluating hitherto unexamined past and contemporary science. that it can be shown that in the history of science whenever a simpler theory was preferred over a less simple one. negative heuristic. but so are scientific theories.ANTI-REALISM AGAINST METHODOLOGY 387 Suppose. the selected theory turned out to be empirically more adequate. or. If it insists in giving only limited advice. and not merely pragmatic? Put differently. Whenever this methodological maxim was followed. Should not methods give heuristic advice when such advice is so justified? Should the heuristic advice then not be regarded as true or false. methods are put forward with particular interests and aims in mind. antirealism cannot dispense with methods. and not truth. theoretical advice. or empirically less inadequate. too. than its rivals. if not this. what form would even a pragmatic justification of the anti-realist method take? To be sure. not a grand metaphysical one. why is it assumed that the criteria of relevance and the standard of comparison have an essentially pragmatic element? To be sure. namely. the commitment was vindicated far.6 The historical methods purport to discover a certain property or properties – paradigm. normal science. Such a justification is certainly in harmony with the anti-realist spirit: it is an empirical justification. the notion frequently invoked in historical methods is the notion of truth. research programme. Now. This is in fact the strategy adopted by historical methods. Suppose. third. This is an advantage not to be forgone: How else can the truthfulness – or for that matter. So a method that showed why we ought to prefer Einstein’s theory over New- . anti-realism would justifiably offer the heuristic advice: pursue the simplest of available theories. In sum. that the success of a method is no more dependent on us than is the success of science. even then must it use methods. far more frequently than not. Faced with a variety of methods this historical approach attempts to show how one can eliminate poor methods and recover the best extant method. so also methodological sentences may have truth values. of course. But I have tried to present the argument against the present version of antirealism solely in terms of empirical adequacy. Just as theory sentences have truth values yet have pragmatic considerations attending them. the heuristic advice of a methodology is that one ought always to pick the simplest theory for further theoretical and experimental research. Would we then not be justified in pursuing simpler theories? If so. correctness or pragmatic nature – of rival pragmatic methodological presuppositions to be judged? Assuming. commitment to the theory was vindicated each time.

When should a theory be pursued? The scientific practice supplies some of the answers. Powerful methods. it is impossible to get rid of methodological talk. so are methods. namely. For the successful practice of science. What is the fundamental charge?.7 The second response is by way of analogy. especially when theories are selected and rejected. how inescapable is that talk in the on-going practice of science. How were the continents aligned in the Triassic? The experiments supply the pursued answers. like major theories. the statements about unobservable entities. is true in method. (The first recommendation is odd since there is no point in recommending something to the scientists which they cannot. the anti-realist recommends total immersion in the theoretical commitments. 1980.) What is true in science. it is impossible to get rid of talk of theoretical entities even in ordinary talk. Or we shall not be able to explain the plausibility of our decisions. So: the anti-realist may also recommend to the scientists total immersion in the philosophical commitments of a method. for instance. such as. and so on. When should a theory be rejected? and. The anti-realist argues that while it is not the aim of science to discover truths about the unobservable world. then. The statements of heuristic advice in method should be regarded as at least capable of having truth-values exactly like their counterparts in science. The incomplete theory supplies the interesting questions. such as. are not easy to come by. and not just backward-looking which emphasizes mere con- .388 HUSAIN SARKAR ton’s is not just pragmatic – although there might be pragmatic features in it as in the two theories. The experiments perform dual tasks: they enable the scientists to fill out the blanks in the theory and also to test its empirical adequacy (van Fraassen. while also recommending that they do not purchase the ontological commitments of the method. It would be an interesting psychological speculation to see if a scientist can totally immerse himself in the theoretical commitments of the theory without exhibiting the slightest trace of having made any existential commitment. How does natural selection operate?. and they are not quickly discarded. Methods supply interesting questions. and those reasons are methodological. the true or approximately true theory. In science. while also recommending that the scientists not make any existential commitments to the ontological implications of the theory. Theory and assumed theoretical entities are indispensable in designing experiments. When is a theory corroborated?. in principle. I argue. Scientific practice performs a dual task: it enable scientists to fill out the methodological blanks and also to test the adequacy of the method. Think. such as. avoid doing. 73–74). they leave some interesting questions unanswered. One does so for reasons. Such a view happily is forward-looking with respect to methods. If theories are incomplete.

useful or useless. or.8 On the contrary. one can go a step further in the argument.REALIST A SKEPTIC ? Is there any real difference – so far – between this version of anti-realism and the more forthright two-word maxim of the skeptic. Perhaps. ends in being mere skepticism. inductivists are divided into distinct subgroups each sharing its own distinct pragmatic presuppositions. . Whether or not you were vindicated in a decision or action depends on the outcome . . . is the dilemma: Either methods are governed by pragmatic presuppositions or they are not. Skepticism on this point. whether local or global. IS THE ANTI . everything is permissible. and right opinion. If ultimately pragmatic presuppositions govern and there is only the notion of correctness or usefulness by which we can judge methods and their maxims. then it is unclear why theories may not be judged in a similar way. and why the properties of theories. I have said nothing here which mitigates his position. the anti-realist says. . . ‘anything goes’? We should regard our methods as conjectures of the ideal method. But I have found nothing in van Fraassen – or any other anti-realist – that leads me to suspect that he is a mere skeptic. then it is unclear that the methods of palmists and astrologers are at such a disadvantage. then. Lack .ANTI-REALISM AGAINST METHODOLOGY 389 cordance between the maxims of a method and the rational episodes in the history of science. If methods are not governed by mere pragmatic presuppositions. if it is acceptable to an anti-realist then. Let me clarify this [his answer to the question: ‘What are the bounds of rationality?’] by means of the distinction between reasonableness and vindication in the evaluation of right action. I assume that mere skepticism is not acceptable. right decision. Indeed. deductivists have one set of pragmatic presuppositions and inductivists another. [R]ationality is bridled irrationality. There is no truth or falsity in these matters. then. and there is a possibility that they can be evaluated objectively. 4. What one takes to be the relevant questions and answers in method likewise depend on these suppositions. .) Here. Thus. merely what is correct or incorrect. we should analogously conclude that there are pragmatic presuppositions with respect to methods. even from the limited perspective of constructive empiricism. of course. just as we regard our theories as conjectures of what the ideal empirically adequate theory is. (This will still be true even if everyone shares the belief that every acceptable method must possess the minimal virtue of logical consistency. There are pragmatic presuppositions with respect to the theories: sharing those presuppositions means asking and answering questions in science in the correct way. should not be regarded as truth-indicators.

or opinions so as to hinder needlessly your chance of vindication. ‘We accuse this alternative history (if predicated on the same basic facts) . (III) There is no independent justification for any ampliative extrapolation of the evidence plus previous opinion to the future. in all other cases those factors – the factors that hinder needlessly – are difficult to determine. there can be no argument which would justify (in the sense of the term at hand) making one decision or taking one action rather than another. decisions. or illiteracy to an end. (van Fraassen. holds neither (II) nor (IV). (II) It is irrational to maintain unjustified opinion. The anti-realist offers something like the following argument. 178) (I) The anti-realist claims that he resists the skeptic more than the orthodox Bayesian. Whether or not that was reasonable depends on factors settled at the time and. say. because the skeptic is making an impossible demand. accessible. There is still a connection because the paradigm of irrationality is to form or organize your actions. it is difficult to determine what factors are to be regarded as ‘hindering needlessly’ one’s chance of being vindicated. We need not follow the skeptic in these two theses. or poverty. a skeptic holds the following ‘theses’: There can be no independent justification to believe what tradition and ourselves of yesterday tell us. (van Fraassen. 1985. or. namely. to eradicate poverty. one has made a set of wagers every outcome of which results in a negative pay-off. the society elected to bring an end to racism (not. being able to pursue all the alternatives effectively). the society could have chosen.390 HUSAIN SARKAR of vindication can be a reproach. presumably. According to him. perhaps. Suppose that a society had several options at a certain stage in its history: to bring racism. given access to all of the information at the time of making the decision or taking action. put another way. Let us grant this for the sake of argument and see what follows. but disagrees with the skeptic’s holding (II). Under a different set of historical circumstances. The anti-realist thinks that his view does not lead to skepticism. but it cannot impugn the rationality of the action or opinion. It is easy to see that when one holds an inconsistent set of propositions or has a Dutch Book bet made against one. 248) The trouble with this view – as with that of Popper – is that. the anti-realist. The Bayesian agrees with the skeptic to the extent of holding (I). But. (III) and (IV). Say. both the trajectories could have been criticized. says the anti-realist. (IV) It is irrational to do so without justification. one will necessarily not be vindicated. as Machiavelli pointed out. while the former. 1989. in some sense. What is so difficult to determine is the boundary line between reasonableness and unreasonableness. We have two possible trajectories of the society.

as opposed to Russell’s Prussian brand (in which what is permitted is explicit. the group might have elected to exclusively pursue the programme whose central core claimed that natural selection acts at the level of the individual of the species (Stephen Jay Gould. and so on. rejecting all other programmes. But if there are constraints that exclude crazy theories. In the extreme case. A similar argument would then apply in the case of a group of scientists confronted by a plethora of theories. Suppose a group of scientists begins with a host of theories with vastly different probabilities. ‘but not of being irrational. the alternatives with which the society began are easily seen as pursuing just. and its choice. yet each theory is consistent. Might one then say: ‘We can accuse this society. To do that would be to deny the element of free choice involved in our own decision’ (van Fraassen.ANTI-REALISM AGAINST METHODOLOGY 391 of being mistaken or wrong (just like our opponents)’. 171). 1989. feckless. So one might say. or sensible. A scientist in such a group is then ‘free’ to pursue any theory: moxibustion. but only that they are not a matter of logic. this is hardly outlandish. 235–56). but not of being irrational’? Given (III). In opting for voluntarism or pragmatism in epistemology. did he avoid criticism or worse yet give . To do that would be to deny the element of free choice involved in its own decision. 179). astrology. Lamarckism. One might counter that I have overlooked the anti-realist saying: I have not implied that standards of criticism do not exist. . The anti-realist’s argument appears plausible because. an entire group of biologists pursues Creationism. . one implicitly allows the relevance of just those critical standards that apply to other sorts of enterprise. and pursuing any one is not akin to the group laying a Dutch Book bet against itself. each of which is plausible. says the anti-realist. Richard Lewontin). and commendably democratic. Unless the anti-realist is able to delimit that pool of theories to just a select set – not necessarily a unit set – it is not clear how he can escape the charge that his English brand of epistemology (in which what is not explicitly prohibited is permitted). Was our friend . But change the scenery a bit. but not of being irrational. This sort of voluntarism is essential to the anti-realist’s epistemic enterprise (van Fraassen. and the anti-realist’s denial of (IV). everything else is prohibited) (van Fraassen. or noble goals. Creationism. courageous. foolish. For example. 1984. in his portrayal. did he slavishly follow received tradition or sensibly treat it with respect. The first group could also accuse this alternative history of being mistaken or wrong. Under a different set of historical circumstances. 1989. is generous enough to allow anything. reckless. a group of biologists may elect to pursue a research programme whose core dictates that natural selection operates at the level of the gene (Richard Dawkins). of being mistaken or wrong. these ‘bridles’ are not easily evident. good. homeopathy.

starts a career. is precisely what Russell feared. in the ultimate analysis. ‘A RECIPE FOR DISASTER ’ The anti-realist presses on. or tailoring. the anti-realist. I do not know – I confess – which scientist. and consequently. loves. stable. paints.9 Well. the anti-realist needs to have. A Darwinian in the group (making pragmatic presuppositions P1 ) says. . . ‘Join the revolution! There are too many problems with Darwinism’. 1989. best advertised by skepticism. ‘a recipe for disaster’. and upholds a view about the world and our place therein? (van Fraassen. in a group of biologists becomes a Lamarckian.392 HUSAIN SARKAR in to skeptical despair? These are all questions we could also ask when someone builds a house. if any. adapts. as we shall see. To prevent that possibility. and uniform. they cannot shore up the defense that the anti-realist has a share in the doctrines of George Edward Moore and David Armstrong that uphold common sense because he. joins a revolution. ‘What a foolish decision!’. another scientist (making pragmatic presuppositions P2 ) says. is wrong or why and which theory. say. why not also when a person fashions. has eventually shown strong family resemblances between our critical scientific activities and the critical activities in our ordinary lives. The latter is anything but staid. he offers the following against method: . the alleged standards of criticism are hardly unvarying standards. and since our ordinary lives are not invaded by skepticism. if any. the external world exists) and the claims and criticisms that mark our ordinary lives. fights. Thus. . This. ‘I would not do it if I were him. not quite. There is a vast difference between the claims of common sense that Moore defended (such as. but it will be interesting to see what he ends up doing’. Entitled. our scientific lives need not be invaded by it either. a way of evaluating pragmatic presuppositions which in turn does not make pragmatic presuppositions (on pain of confronting the same argument again). the right set of presuppositions (perhaps also the right sort of group?) to enable one to rationally accept any theory he wants to accept. a third (making pragmatic presuppositions P3 ) says. The anti-realist has to forestall the possibility of finding. A fourth (making pragmatic presuppositions P4 ) says. . they will vary from one sub-group to the next. can be regarded as unjustifiable to pursue or why. 175) How does the possibility of such criticisms circumvent anything? Someone.10 5. they are assuredly not the unvaried deliverance of common sense. ‘More power to Creationism!’ Presumably then. From the point of view of the anti-realist’s epistemology and voluntarism.

Z . First. the realists and anti-realists are unanimously agreed upon this fact and feature of the history of science: science is a success story. Now the realist may offer X as a way of explaining that success or offer X as a way of doing successful science. Some conjectures were better than others. Third. first. says the anti-realist. Assume that this method is a method for arriving at true. I conclude: Step 4 only needs reference to a currently best available method X . armed with the history of science and methodology. by account X. Produce such a justification. or at least reliable. Raise the problem of justification: to show or explain how the method described by X is indeed especially well designed to lead to true or reliable information about Y . would cast suspicion on Step 3. it is possible that the success of science either was dependent on other features of the scientific procedure. note that it rests on certain assumptions. and the poorer ones were discarded along the way.11 Furthermore. This conjecture is partly based on philosophical reasons and partly on the tentative knowledge of where. Analyze given justification Z . Then claim that the success of Z in explaining the success of the sciences which proceed by method X is good support for the correctness of those assumptions underlying Z . X . Second. not some the scientific method: so the first objection fails. Assume that there is such a thing as the scientific method and that it has been best described. science has been successful. if only in part. methods. Step 3. or at least that it is better than alternative methods that might have been followed. the success of the enterprise leaves us without any guarantee that the method one is seeking to justify has the properties claimed for it.ANTI-REALISM AGAINST METHODOLOGY 393 Step 1. information about aspect Y of the world. if genuine. must the realist claim that there is such a thing as the scientific method and that the science of the past has proceeded in accordance with the maxims of that method. what one is less certain of is that science actually proceeded in accordance with the maxims of method. Examine these claims. Step 4. Step 2. There are several such conjectures. of how to do current science. when. or it may due to special circumstances in which method X was practiced. purportedly described in X ? What the realist. These doubts. There is a nice difference between the two claims. says the anti-realist. method X . The realist then offers as a fallible conjecture. But. and nothing more. In other words. 1985. Each method was a conjecture of how best to conduct science. Just what is wrong? To be sure. (Although I . besides those described in method X . should say is that there have been different methods. and how. if this enterprise should succeed. the scientific enterprise succeeded. 259) Something is wrong with this. it can only be as an inference to the best explanation. even if method X is correct. (van Fraassen.

or I. at any rate. ‘It took a century and a third’ (Heilbron. or was at least quite slow.) The second objection is that even if method X is correct. even though we assume that the method. Other things being equal. used by the early physicists was correct. early modern physicists no doubt could have brought knowledge of electrical phenomena from its very beginnings with Gilbert to the order given it by Dufay in a few years’. second. for a particular historical instance. There are all kinds of possibilities: good methods can give rise to bad or slow science (case at hand). but that is an inescapable difficulty in any venture. The anti-realist might claim that this is an example where science failed. Instead. one must admit that there are difficulties in determining. at a level of support and urgency comparable to-day’s. These factors conditioned the pace and extent of study of natural phenomena. or it was fortunate in being pursued by imaginative minds. 1979.394 HUSAIN SARKAR am prepared to argue that one of the tasks of philosophy of science is to find the best method just as it is the task or aim of science is to find the true theory or an empirically adequate one. may alone be responsible for the success or failure of science? Is there a reason why the usual ceteris paribus clause does not operate here? The realists. One can equally well say that a particular scientific theory was successful not because of what was thought central in it but rather due to other things less central to the theory or due to the auxiliary hypotheses. more effectively and more quickly than it would if the society was founded on a poorer method. and so on. and career goals. To be sure. says John Heilbron. one can say that the theory was successful in part due to happy circumstances: because it was funded quite well. but who would make the claim that any single factor. let alone the factor of method. and so on. A . X . to provide the beginnings of a demography of physicists. the success of science may be due to other features of scientific procedures than those described in X or they may be due to the happy circumstances in which X was used. if the society of scientists is founded on a good method. which was responsible for the success of science. True. Thus. it is wrong to latch on to the possibility where the success of science is solely attributed to methods. salaries. ‘First. say. Let me provide an illustration for the anti-realist claim. when it was method rather than money. an eminent historian of science says that he wished. a good method would lead science to be more successful than otherwise. In terms of group rationality. it will be led to better results. In writing about the theories of electricity in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. other things being equal. bad methods may give rise to good science. Or. 2). to show the opportunities offered and the constraints imposed by organized learning. make the following claim. their numbers.

it was functioning as a norm. then. the anti-realist has no counter. If this is correct. The realist in offering X is not offering an explanation of the known facts (in fact he may not desire to offer any such explanation. Such advice is either true or false. The heuristic advice may run thus: if a theory is selected from rival theories on the basis of certain local and global properties. The first part is easily answered since it follows from our response to the second objection.4 times as heavy as the sun could not exist because the central pressure could never exceed the force of gravity. 263– 8). it would lead to happy scientific results. 1985. The astronomer decides to reject Chandrasekhar’s theory. If the advice is true or approximately true. If the heuristic advice was good advice. practical. on the other hand. the advice was then not functioning as explanatory at all. ceteris paribus. and may be rejected if it fails to properly guide that activity or to promote the goal of empirical adequacy. and nineteenth centuries methodologies as the anti-realist’s own penny version of that history amply testifies (van Fraassen. Such a heuristic advice can now be tested against actual practice where it may fail or succeed. may later try to explain why that astronomer was led to reject Chandrasekhar’s theory. then in the long run that theory will have a better chance of being empirically more adequate than any other theory. But it is fallible. the scientific society will make correct decisions more frequently than if it chose to make decisions on the basis of a poorer method.12 He is to be seen as offering a way of doing current science. embodied as a normative claim in the methodology X . The third objection is in two parts: one pertaining to the guarantee of success and the other pertaining to being merely an inference to the best explanation. Against this true and modest view. shortly after 1930. Ask: Just what facts is X supposed to explain anyway? Say an astronomer. and above all heuristic advice. poor results would ensue. making one thing clear: a method is no mere inference to the best explanation but guides scientific activity. .13 A historian. and for good reasons). No one offers a method as a guarantee of success: surely we have learnt something from the excesses of seventeenth. thereby effectively replying to the second part of the antirealist’s objection. Although one that could be tested. At the time the astronomer used this advice. A method offers heuristic advice concerning what theories to accept and what theories to reject. Let me explain. then the method X is not an inference to the best explanation.ANTI-REALISM AGAINST METHODOLOGY 395 defendant of method need claim no more. used heuristic advice of a methodology X to decide whether to accept Chandrasekhar’s then astonishing theory that white dwarfs more than 1. and his method X offers theoretical. if not. eighteenth. and only heuristic.

There is still enough to quarrel with in this passage which I pass by with a queue of questions: Who thought that the extrapolation from the past to the future would be simple? Why assume that if an answer is forthcoming it will be based on no presuppositions? Why should an adequate answer be nonmetaphysical? Can an empiricist maintain that claim without circularity? . indicators of empirical adequacy. something like rules of induction. need not follow on the grounds that it is not a methodological ‘principle that one might as well hang for a sheep as for a lamb’ (van Fraassen. Ergo. the scientists in a group have to decide how best to structure their society so that it will lead to a theory T that is empirically adequate. But it is an idea that goes into bankruptcy with every new philosophical generation. ergo. are indispensable. Confronted by a plethora of theories. 72). In particular. non-metaphysical answer. 1982. it is not an inference to the best explanation. The anti-realist. Therefore.14 Next. There is no other alternative. but what is testable is not necessarily explanatory. anything is permissible. The anti-realist: Consider the question: How is reasonable expectation about future events possible? (“Future” may be replaced by “unobserved” for generality. the only choice left is this: the methods.396 HUSAIN SARKAR and such a historian of science may invoke the heuristic advice offered by X (that the astronomer used) as part of his (the historian’s) explanation.) The recurrent idea that there is some rational form of simple extrapolation from the past. (van Fraassen. from which the conclusion that methods are truth-indicators is not a long step. if there is no argument why some chosen theories are more likely to lead toward T . If that is correct. may be especially appealing to empiricists because it holds out hope for a presuppositionless. That choice must spring from methodological considerations. heuristic advice of a methodology is testable. this does not exactly surprise. but fallible and conjectural. the scientists have to choose. 1980. THE RUSSELL PROBLEM Or: suppose that the anti-realist aim of science was the only aim worth pursuing. it will explain every form and feature of the observable world. and the local and global properties they attribute to theories. Now. what is explanatory is testable. 6. then we can select any theory. then there is no structure of a group of scientists that is obligatory from a rational point of view. 76) After fifty years of Popper. and hence the anarchistic view is surely permissible. however. namely. This is simply an unacceptable conclusion. Consequently. but not explanatory.

16 (The Empiricist’s Postulate): There is a solution to the problem of induction. As a preliminary investigation. One should not even try to explain why science is successful. I conjecture. is the tension between the problem of induction and Russell’s problem. three basic postulates. in any form. we can make an inference about the future on the basis of the past. say.18 How is one to arbitrate between these postulates? How does one arbitrate between rock-bottom postulates without begging the question or arguing in circles? In stark form. I see. David Hume must be answered. Without it. On the one hand. At least.19 Their stronger argument is that induction leads to inconsis- . 15 What I have been trying to demonstrate so far is that the anti-realist position highlights the Russell problem. the basic conflict. we cannot make any inference about the future on the basis of the past. it would be helpful. is unacceptable. 1945. One may do so by means of fruitful empirical as well as metaphysical assumptions. ’ (Russell. Here is what he says. then. the dilemma. a sketch of an answer has to be provided for making it reasonable to rely on the past when predicting what the future is going to be like. Moreover. there is no hope of preserving our rationality. At least one that is reasonable. The lunatic who believes that he is a poached egg is to be condemned solely on the ground that he is in a minority .ANTI-REALISM AGAINST METHODOLOGY 397 Must an empiricist make that claim? At any rate. mutually exclusive and exhaustive. . to have these postulates explicitly stated: (The Skeptic’s Postulate): There is no solution to the problem of induction. and I shall call it the Russell problem: ‘It is therefore important to discover whether there is any answer to Hume within the framework of a philosophy that is wholly or mainly empirical. there is no intellectual difference between sanity and insanity. I cannot improve on Bertrand Russell. 699). and the deductivists maintain that any position that leads to espousing the principle of induction. If not. he need not foist such an assumption on. . One can try to explain the success of science. they are. we can make an inference about the future on the basis of the past. There are.17 (The Rationalist’s Postulate): There is a solution to the problem of induction. Popper. But let me turn to something else. At least one that is reasonable. These postulates guide and control discussions of this sort and determine the final verdict on the arguments. none that is reasonable. van Fraassen. I think. But one should do so by staying within the empirical perimeters. One can try to explain the success of science. the rationalist.

We claim that we make crucial decisions of accepting or rejecting theories in science for compelling. 1997). without too much alteration. and claim that any postulate that fails to preserve our minimal rationality (that is. is why Popperians have written so much about theory .20 Consequently. These arguments. So far no one has advocated that desperate move. respectively. Chapter 2. 2 I have argued at length for the claims of this paragraph in A Theory of Method (Sarkar. But while this escape from the dilemma bypasses the problem of induction. and following him van Fraassen. we may try to explain certain decisions as rational. Imre Lakatos and Wesley Salmon accept the empiricist’s and the rationalist’s theses.’ (Sarkar. ‘Scientific Realism and the Neutrality of Method. See also below. only on his anti-realist stance against methodology. propose to escape the dilemma by accepting the skeptic’s postulate and claim that we give up trying to explain what we had hitherto regarded as something to be explained and justified. we place ourselves in position to solve the Russell problem. we fail to solve the Russell problem. see. any postulate that fails to distinguish us from the lunatics as does the skeptic’s postulate) ought to be abandoned. This is the dilemma. pays the price of retaining an unsolved problem of induction. See especially the arguments developed against Karl Popper’s view that methodological statements are to be regarded as merely conventions. reasons. then. But this escape from the dilemma while it offers a solution to the Russell problem. namely. The revision was done during part of my sabbatical leave in Spring 1998 which was generously supported by Louisiana State University. consider the recent proposal that the notion of partial truth should replace the notion of verisimilitude in Jarrett Leplin’s (1997) A Novel Defense of Scientific Realism. On this view. The traditional ways of responding to van Fraassen’s anti-realism with respect to scientific theories I find quite deficient. I do not take issue with van Fraassen on his anti-realism with respect to scientific theories. the rationality of choice and the success of science. Popper.398 HUSAIN SARKAR tency and that is sufficient to reject any argument in its defense unless we give up the basic laws of logic. Section IV and Chapter 5. Sections I and II). can also be deployed against van Fraassen’s view that methodological statements are to be regarded as merely pragmatic. See my review of that book in The Journal of Philosophy (April 1998). we dispense with the problem of induction but. 1 In this paper. On the other hand. especially pp. but then we presuppose some version of the controversial principle of induction. 204–206 which shows that that notion too is a bit problematic. but not infallible. it leaves the Russell problem unsolved. 1983. 3 Or any substitute thereof: for instance. On this view. of course. NOTES ∗ Many thanks are owed to an anonymous referee for his substantive criticisms of an earlier draft. 4 van Fraassen complains about the realists going on and on about theory comparison and verisimilitude: ‘That.

a good alternative’. But. he might find himself less in need of pragmatism. Descartes and Newton picked such theories. If he succeeds in this task. Would a scientist feel that his life is not wasted if he is able to show the falsity of a circulating theory? If so. a success which he thinks is not surprising anyway. ‘Pick that theory which promises to be less empirically inadequate than any other’. 6 Methods such as those of Imre Lakatos and Thomas Kuhn. On the other hand. says van Fraassen. 1989. he would also have had to revise his answer to the objection encased in ‘Reaction 2: Force majeure’: (van Fraassen. pp. Conclusion: Even when we are compelled to choose a theory. 38–40. 7 See footnote 3. The objection van Fraassen was considering was that ’we must choose among the historically given significant hypotheses’. These choices are made or ought to be made in accordance with the rule that says. without going into specifics. or it. he must also regard the lives of Descartes and Newton as having been wasted. promising theory: at least a theory less empirically inadequate than presently available. 134–5). But is there not a very reasonable third alternative? A scientist may feel his life is not wasted if the theory he has picked for research ultimately proves to be less empirically inadequate than the others that he could have picked. The Scientific Image. Had . ‘Circumstances may force us to act on the best alternative open to us. or a group of scientists. is one in which he. 5 If van Fraassen had an adequate answer to the crucial question. 178). and the connection with skepticism. 1985. So I will not be called a skeptic. One can imagine a scientist who might think that all the available options in his group are indeed hopeless. it inevitably made choices: it preferred some theories for further research and experiment over others.’ (van Fraassen. or it. the usual task before the scientist. 1989. I would say that they allow pragmatic elements into this which would tend to refute or undermine (a) and (c) and hence both theses of objectivity. Now. pp. or of any other currently on offer. Which of the two competing theories is less empirically inadequate than the other?. the combination of probabilism and voluntarism I have sketched cannot be fairly convicted of either relativism or skepticism. Whatever the correctness of his explanation. l77–8). A scientist picks the best currently available theory. and what we choose would be the best alternative worthy of belief. (van Fraassen. his research lends no credence to the claim that he believes in that theory. 11 Van Fraassen even offers a Darwinian explanation for the success of science. the task of defining ‘– is less empirically inadequate than –’ is crucial for van Fraassen’s anti-realism. despite their terminological obeisance to objective rationality’. 8 ‘. is confronted by a few respectable theories and he. For when a group of scientists was faced with a plethora of theories. But even here. 10 See below Section VI. . there is an important lacuna in them. A central feature in any explanation for the success of science in history must be the role heuristic advice played in the decision-making process of the scientists. Consequently. . 1989. 176–7. responds van Fraassen. . see (van Fraassen. is compelled to make choices. consequently. 9 On Moore and Armstrong on common sense. ipso facto. . that choice is not indicative of a belief in the truth of the theory. would a scientist feel his life is wasted if the theory he has picked is false? If so. his aim is to get the group out of the morass and hope that someone will come along and propose a fresh. They cannot force us to believe that it is. .ANTI-REALISM AGAINST METHODOLOGY 399 comparison and verisimilitude. For there is nothing valuable in simply tearing things down. and his life-task is to show just that. 279). their scientific lives are not best regarded as wasted lives. Look at the practice of science.

I had suggested the following principle: ‘As future historians to the scientists in the past. we should do for them what we would have future historians of our scientific beliefs and decisions do for us. ‘This is a desperate point of view. We should sharply distinguish two problems that are rarely kept separate: (a) How can one explain the success of a particular scientific theory. which provided a stimulus for at least 15 years. heuristic advice as well. 17 The views of William James (1897. 1945. far more significantly. Sarkar 1983. political. is an ambiguous phrase. But choices are essentially tied to heuristic advice of a method. and it is widely thought that explaining it in the sense understood in (a) is a sufficient way of explaining it in the sense understood in (b). I am arguing. The answer to (b) must not only invoke all of that. Elsewhere Russell says. if any. 1963. but something else as well: namely. (See. p. van Fraassen. had been accepted and other cosmological theories rejected (as in not pursued). and economic considerations might be brought to bear in selecting a theory. and it must be hoped that there is some way of escaping from it’ (Bertrand Russell. I do not doubt that social. Immanuel Kant. I suggest. 12–14. pace sociologists of science. 23). (1959. 12 For he would be guilty of transgressing the principle of parity. ‘Success of science’. a realist is not offering X – as if it were the scientific method – for explaining the rational decisions of scientists in the past because if he did so he would be guilty of transgressing the aforementioned principle of parity. quantum physics? The answer to (a) simply invokes the relationship between the theory on the one hand and the world on the other. but. See. decisions that were intimately tied to the heuristic advice of a method. He is. Had other decisions been made invoking less plausible methods and hence other heuristic advice. but I am unable to determine. 279–280 and 294–296). science would not have moved as quickly apace. then. especially. the only alternative is to throw over almost everything that is regarded as knowledge by science and common sense’ (Russell. no theory of knowledge should attempt to explain why we are successful in our attempt to explain things’ (Popper. at the very least science would have slowed down. say. what epistemic value. Darwin’s theory of natural selection? and (b) How can one explain the success over time of a particular scientific discipline. Consequently. there would be in a decision based on these considerations. if the Bondi-Gold-Hoyle’s steady-state theory proposed in 1948. 1979. 16 ‘More precisely. ‘I do not see any way out of a dogmatic assertion that we know the inductive principle or some equivalent. 15 The paragraph ends with. . In the present context. at least.400 HUSAIN SARKAR other choices been made. pp. Nor does van Fraassen himself give any indication of taking that as a possible line of argument. say. especially. a viable explanation for the success of science must necessarily invoke not just the relation between scientific theories and the world. 144–148). 1995. 14 One might suggest that the scientists ‘might use all kinds of social processes instead (and the anti-realist might be happy about the use of these “traditions”)’. we have good reasons to believe that science would not have been nearly as successful. 18 I suppose. 125. offering X as a way of doing current science where X has been fashioned keeping in mind the knowledge of the growth of science and the best presently available philosophical arguments. 699). For instance. that correct decisions were made at important junctures in the history of that discipline.’ A Theory of Method. In proposing a theory of how to explain rational decisions in the history of science. 683). 13 See footnote 6. Preface and 12–14) and Hans Reichenbach’s theory of posits in Modern Philosophy of Science.

especially. which is very different from the formal logical calculus. The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell. The scientist asks. Russell. New York. in P. .: 1959. Electricity in the 17th and 18th Centuries: A Study of Early Modern Physics. someone proposes to him to try the utility maximization approach. he says.” to the foregoing question.ANTI-REALISM AGAINST METHODOLOGY 401 19 For some powerful criticisms of recent approaches to induction.” I can imagine Lord Russell wondering why the scientist. But I am not trading on that ambiguity nor. If the answer were. ‘The New Brain’.: 1963. Berkeley. (Nor was Popper in his ineffective reply to Russell. should construe this as an advantage.” comes the honest reply. ‘Contra-Copernicus: A Critical Re-estimation of the Mathematical Planetary Theory of Ptolemy. I dare say. The University of Wisconsin Press. Reichenbach. A Theory of Method. the referee avers. when I use it in the rationalist’s postulate. REFERENCES de Solla Price. ‘Review of Jarrett Leplin’s A Novel Defense of Scientific Realism’. 134–142. to agree with Popper and van Fraassen that induction in their formal sense is impossible whilst yet affirming the rationalist’s postulate – thereby doing away with the so-called tension between the two.: 1969.: 1985. “but it will do something else for you.: 1897. J. Oxford University Press. pp. In particular. this latter admits of a decision theoretic re-construal of induction as some form of utility maximization. Rosenfeld. H. When I refer to Popper and van Fraassen. it seems to me. in Marshall Clagett (ed. H. J. A. Thus it is perfectly possible. A Novel Defense of Scientific Realism. Heilbron. is quite straightforward. Green and Co.: 1997. I might appear to be using the notion in the sense of formal logical calculus. Simon and Schuster. Schilpp (ed. H. I think. Russell. was Russell. I might appear to be leaving the notion of induction completely open. The Will to Believe. The Journal of Philosophy 95. in his response to what I have called the Russell problem. K. given his goal. and Kepler’. B. New York. Nor was van Fraassen. see van Fraassen. B.. Longmans. Sarkar. than Popper’s. James. although van Fraassen’s response is more complicated. University of California Press. Harper and Row. the burden of argument would lie elsewhere to show that the tension has been done away with. 1989. 204–209. New York. “Will that increase my chances at getting at the truth or nearer to the truth?” “No. The Modern Schoolman: A Quarterly Journal of Philosophy 75(1). “Yes. Having failed to solve the problem of how to make decisions which will ensure this goal. Oxford University Press.: 1998.). Critical Problems in The History of Science. Copernicus.: 1979.: 1997. Sarkar. Leplin. Sarkar. Popper. New York. Oxford. 197–218. 65–78. New York. A scientist is interested in truth or verisimilitude.) The reply to this objection.: 1979. A History of Western Philosophy. Berkeley. W. Humanities Press. H. ‘Scientific Realism and the Neutrality of Method’. Modern Philosophy of Science. ‘Replies to Critics’. 20 Now the anonymous referee expressed a fear that I might have left the notion of in- duction crucially ambiguous.: 1945. The New York Review of Books. University of California Press.). and more interesting. Objective Knowledge: Evolutionary Approach. I.: 1983. D.

van Fraassen. Laws and Symmetry.: 1984. W. C. Synthese 5. Chicago. Oxford University Press. Freeman & Company.S. van Fraassen. New York. B. New York.402 HUSAIN SARKAR Segre. The Journal of Philosophy 81. A. van Fraassen.: 1989.).: 1980. E. van Fraassen. ‘Belief and the Will’. M. Hooker (eds. van Fraassen. H. ‘Empiricism in the Philosophy of Science’. B. C. Oxford University Press. C.: 1980. From X-Rays to Quarks: Modern Physicists and Their Discoveries.: 1982. The Scientific Image. in P. 235–56. University of Chicago Press. 26. Images of Science. B. . C. Churchland and C. ‘The Charybdis of Realism: Epistemological Implications of Bell’s Inequality’. B. C.A.: 1985. B. New York. Department of Philosophy Louisiana State University 113 Coates Hall Baton Rouge Louisiana 70803 U.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful