PSA 1972 pp 367-373 | Cite as

Is Scientific Realism a Contingent Thesis?

  • Michael Bradie
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 20)


In his book, The Structure of Science, E. Nagel pontifically handed down the judgment that the dispute between scientific instrumentalism and scientific realism resolved into an issue over ‘preferred modes’ of speech. Nagel argued that any realistic interpretation of formulation of a scientific theory could, by an appropriate switch from the material to the formal mode of speech, be converted into an instrumentalistic interpretation. Thus, the basic issue dividing the instrumentalists and realists, i.e., the ontological status of theoretical entities, whether and in what sense they existed and were real, was declared to be a pseudo-issue. In the interim, despite the high interest in the formalization of theories, a movement that could only serve the instrumentalist or neutralist camp, scientific realism, although pronounced dead, has refused to lie down.


Scientific Theory Contingent Fact Scientific Realism Realistic Interpretation Theoretical Entity 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht-Holland 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Bradie
    • 1
  1. 1.Bowling Green State UniversityUSA

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