# Show Reference: "The Ultimate Argument for Scientific Realism"

The Ultimate Argument for Scientific Realism In Relativism and Realism in Science, Vol. 6 (1988), pp. 229-252, doi:10.1007/978-94-009-2877-0_10 by Alan Musgrave edited by Robert Nola
@incollection{musgrave-1988,
abstract = {Realism and relativism stand opposed. This much is apparent if we consider no more than the realist aim for science. The aim of science, realists tell us, is to have true theories about the world, where 'true' is understood in the classical correspondence sense. And this seems immediately to presuppose that at least some forms of relativism are mistaken. The truth which realists aim for is absolute or objective, rather than relative to 'conceptual scheme' or 'paradigm' or 'world-view' or anything else. And the world which realists seek the truth about is similarly independent of 'conceptual scheme' or 'paradigm' or 'world-view' or anything else. If realism is correct, then relativism (or some versions of it) is incorrect.},
author = {Musgrave, Alan},
booktitle = {Relativism and Realism in Science},
citeulike-article-id = {13332035},
doi = {10.1007/978-94-009-2877-0\_10},
editor = {Nola, Robert},
keywords = {philosophical, philosophy, realism, science, scientific-realism},
pages = {229--252},
posted-at = {2014-08-21 17:58:37},
priority = {2},
publisher = {Springer Netherlands},
series = {Australasian Studies in History and Philosophy of Science},
title = {The Ultimate Argument for Scientific Realism},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-2877-0\_10},
volume = {6},
year = {1988}
}



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Sun argues that computational cognitive models provide productive rather than just descriptive accounts of cognitive phenomenology and therefore have more explanatory value.

A problem with this thought is that Sun subscribes to constructive empiricism which does not hold that all unobservable entities featuring in a theory truly exist. Since these entities take part in the production of the phenomenology, it is unclear what is the explanatory value of the theories being productive.

According to Musgrave, the "Ultimate Argument" for Scientific Realism is that it claims to explain why science is not only good at explaining known phenomenology but also at predicting new phenomenology. The argument claims that non-realism can view successful prediction of new phenomenology by a theory only as a coincidence and that scientific theories have been too successful for pure coincidence.

Musgrave shows that the "Ultimate Argument" of Scientific Realism is

an inference to the best explanation of facts about science.

Thus, the argument advocates to (tentatively) accept Scientific Realism, of which science's success is a consequence, rather than Anti-Realism, which depicts science's success as pure coincidence, because it is the better explanation, not because the latter is the only consistent one.

Realism makes greater ontological commitments than non-realism, by asserting that unobservables exist. Usually, making greater commitments is a good thing for a theory because it entails being more testable, empirically. Unobservables are not observable, though, and therefore do not make the theory more testable.

According to Musgrave, the "Ultimate Argument" of Scientific Realism cannot convince the Positivist Anti-Realist, because the Positivist Anti-Realist does not value explanation via unobservables and thus not the explanation of scientific success through unobservables.