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Theoretical Fertility McMullin-style

Samuel, Schindler (2016) Theoretical Fertility McMullin-style. [Preprint]

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Abstract

A theory’s fertility is one of the standard theoretical virtues. But how is it to be construed? In current philosophical discourse, particularly in the realism debate, theoretical fertility is usually understood in terms of novel success: a theory is fertile if it manages to make successful novel predictions. Another, more permissible, notion of fertility can be found in the work of Ernan McMullin. This kind of fertility, McMullin claims, gives us just as strong (or even stronger) grounds for realism. My paper critically assesses McMullin’s notion of fertility and its realist rationale. It concludes that McMullin’s preferred example, namely the fertile development of the Bohr-Sommerfeld model of the atom, does not support McMullin’s argument for realism. Although the implications for the realism debate are as of yet unclear, the case study offers some important methodological lessons.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Samuel, Schindlersamuel.schindler@css.au.dk
Additional Information: Preprint version. The final publication is available in the European Journal for Philosophy of Science at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13194-016-0150-4.
Keywords: theoretical fertility, theoretical virtue, novel success, realism, idealization, positive heuristics, Bohr-Sommerfeld model
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Theory Change
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Samuel Schindler
Date Deposited: 27 May 2016 18:55
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2017 23:11
Item ID: 12114
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Theory Change
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: June 2016
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12114

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