- Subject index
This comprehensive textbook provides a clear nontechnical introduction to the philosophy of science. Through asking whether science can provide us with objective knowledge of the world, the book provides a thorough and accessible guide to the key thinkers and debates that define the field. George Couvalis surveys traditional themes around theory and observation, induction, probability, falsification and rationality as well as more recent challenges to objectivity including relativistic, feminist and sociological readings. This provides a helpful framework in which to locate the key intellectual contributions to these debates, ranging from those of Mill and Hume, through Popper and Kuhn to Laudan, Bloor and Garfinkel among
Chapter 7: Realism and Instrumentalism
Realism and Instrumentalism
Scientists seem to be enormously successful in using theories about unobservables to make the world predictable and to allow us to formulate strategies for interacting with it. Their theories about entities such as bacteria, neutrons, and curved space are used to explain the behaviour of observable phenomena and to enable us to interact with them in a systematic way For example, scientists explain a child's sore throat and high temperature by a theory about the action of particular bacteria. Their theories about the nature of these bacteria allow them to design an antibiotic which will eliminate the sore throat and high temperature.
In addition to making the world predictable and facilitating our interaction with it, scientific theories seem to tell us ...