A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism

Knowing the Unobservable

A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism

Scientific realism is the view that our best scientific theories give approximately true descriptions of both observable and unobservable aspects of a mind-independent world. Debates between realists and their critics are at the very heart of the philosophy of science. Anjan Chakravartty traces the contemporary evolution of realism by examining the most promising strategies adopted by its proponents in response to the forceful challenges of antirealist sceptics, resulting in a positive proposal for scientific realism today. He examines the core principles of the realist position, and sheds light on topics including the varieties of metaphysical commitment required, and the nature of the conflict between realism and its empiricist rivals. By illuminating the connections between realist interpretations of scientific knowledge and the metaphysical foundations supporting them, his book offers a compelling vision of how realism can provide an internally consistent and coherent account of scientific knowledge.


“The level of ambition is high, and in my opinion Chakravartty achieves what he aims at….Regardless of whether one is ultimately persuaded by the arguments presented in this book, it is a must-buy for anyone who is serious about the realist/anti-realist debate, as well as for anyone interested in the issue of the metaphysics of science.”
--Jacob Busch, University of St Andrews, The Philosophical Quarterly

“Chakravartty embraces parts of entity realism and structural realism, but this is only the beginning. The justification for his semirealism includes a big dose of metaphysics, namely his accounts of causation and of natural kinds, among other things. Much of the book is given over to very detailed discussion of these issues. In a short review, I cannot hope to do justice to the full richness of Chakravartty’s subtle and highly original treatment of these matters. Let me close with a simple recommendation to any who want to read the last word on scientific realism – this is it.”
--James Robert Brown, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences

“Chakravartty is clear and engaging in his writing, and charitable and judicious in his arguments with other philosophers. His book is essential reading for those interested in scientific realism or the metaphysics of science.”
--James Ladyman, University of Bristol, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews


Canadian Philosophical Association biennial Book Prize 2009 - Winner in Hardback
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