Pluralism and The Scientific Realism/ Antirealism Debate

Rong-Lin Wang
Department of Philosophy, National Taiwan University

      Few, if any, would deny that in order to understand what science is it is necessary to understand why and how scientists construct theories, conduct experiments, exchange their discoveries, and engage in dispute with each other. Indeed, it seems to be an established consensus among science studiers of our days that ignorance of scientific practice would in no way lead to an adequate understanding of science.

      On this view, philosophers of science, insofar as they also take science as object of study, should no longer devote themselves exclusively to the logical analysis of science or its structure. They should instead take into account scientific practice and make sense of it if they aim to have an adequate understanding of the ‘real’ science. And this means that philosophy of science must be historical, given that scientists of different times have different practices. Thus Gaston Bachelard (1934) makes the claim that contemporary science, as opposed to classical science, demands a new philosophy (une nouvelle épistémologie). And if the Cartesian philosophy of science adequately accounts for the classical science, then what can make sense of the contemporary science must be ‘une épistémologie non-cartésienne’. In the same way, Alexandre Koyré (1939) argues that the understanding of the Galilean science, as opposed to the medieval science, demands the Platonic rather than the Aristotelian philosophy.......