Axiological Scientific Realism and Methodological Prescription

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Lyons, Timothy D.
conference paper description
In this paper I distinguish between two kinds of meta-hypotheses, or hypotheses about science, at issue in the scientific realism debate. The first (Type-D) are descriptive empirical hypotheses regarding the nature of scientific inquiry. The second (Type-E) are epistemological theories about what individuals (scientists or non-scientists) should / can justifiably believe about (successful) scientific theories. Favoring (variants of) the realist Type-D meta-hypotheses, I argue that a particular set of realist and non-realist efforts in the debate over Type-E’s have been valuable in the quest to describe and understand the nature of scientific inquiry. For the realism debate itself has inadvertently and indirectly laid the foundations for an important kind of Type-D meta-hypothesis, one regarding creativity in the history of science—which, in turn, is relevant to refining our descriptions of inference. After illustrating this result with regard to the historical argument (a.k.a. the pessimistic induction) against realism, I suggest that these empirically attained meta-hypotheses pertaining to scientific creativity can, in turn, be made methodologically prescriptive.