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The instrument of science

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Agnes Bolinska.

In my recently published monograph, The Instrument of Science: Scientific Anti-Realism Revitalised (Routledge), I develop and defend a position that I call ‘cognitive instrumentalism’. This involves three core theses. First, science makes theoretical progress primarily when it furnishes us with more predictive power or understanding concerning observable things. Second, scientific discourse concerning unobservable things should only be taken literally in so far as it involves observable properties or analogies with observable things. Third, scientific claims about unobservable things are probably neither approximately true nor liable to change in such a way as to increase in truthlikeness. In this talk I will offer some arguments for each thesis, using examples from the history of science, and hence cognitive instrumentalism as a whole.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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