© 1987

Scientific Realism

A Critical Reappraisal


Part of the Scientific Realism book series (WONS, volume 40)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Nicholas Rescher
    Pages 1-9
  3. Nicholas Rescher
    Pages 10-25
  4. Nicholas Rescher
    Pages 26-32
  5. Nicholas Rescher
    Pages 55-64
  6. Nicholas Rescher
    Pages 76-96
  7. Nicholas Rescher
    Pages 97-110
  8. Nicholas Rescher
    Pages 111-125
  9. Nicholas Rescher
    Pages 146-155
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 156-169

About this book


The increasingly lively controversy over scientific realism has become one of the principal themes of recent philosophy. 1 In watching this controversy unfold in the rather technical way currently in vogue, it has seemed to me that it would be useful to view these contemporary disputes against the background of such older epistemological issues as fallibilism, scepticism, relativism, and the traditional realism/idealism debate. This, then, is the object of the present book, which will recon­ sider the newer concerns about scientific realism in the context of these older philosophical themes. Historically, realism concerns itself with the real existence of things that do not "meet the eye" - with suprasensible entities that lie beyond the reach of human perception. In medieval times, discussions about realism focused upon universals. Recognizing that there are physical objects such as cats and triangular objects and red tomatoes, the medievels debated whether such "abstract objects" as cathood and triangularity and redness also exist by way of having a reality indepen­ dent of the concretely real things that exhibit them. Three fundamen­ tally different positions were defended: (1) Nominalism. Abstracta have no independent existence as such: they only "exist" in and through the objects that exhibit them. Only particulars (individual substances) exist. Abstract "objects" are existents in name only, mere thought­ fictions by whose means we address concrete particular things. (2) Realism. Abstracta have an independent existence as such.



Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of PittsburghUSA

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Scientific Realism
  • Book Subtitle A Critical Reappraisal
  • Authors N. Rescher
  • Series Title Scientific Realism
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 1987
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-90-277-2442-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-90-277-2528-8
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-009-3905-9
  • Series ISSN 1566-659X
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages , 184
  • Number of Illustrations 1 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Philosophy of Science
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


`...a wide-ranging, well-written, and highly readable study of scientific realism in relation to both scientific practice and such philosophical issues as metaphysical realism and epistemological fallibilism. The book is especially good in interpreting the significance of scientific progress; it also delineates important aspects of scientific method and clarifies the interaction between theory and experiment. Rescher lucidly explicates major positions, draws important distinctions, and develops instructive examples. His integration of methodological objectivity with ontological fallibilism is both distinctive and impressive.'
Robert Audi, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, May 1987