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Durham University

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Vickers, P (2013). A Confrontation of Convergent Realism. Philosophy of Science 80(2): 189-211.

Author(s) from Durham


For many years—and with some energy since Laudan’s “Confutation of Convergent Realism” (1981)—the scientific realist has sought to accommodate examples of false-yet-successful theories in the history of science. One of the most prominent strategies is to identify ‘success fueling’ components of false theories that themselves are at least approximately true (judging by our current understanding). In this article I develop both sides of the debate, introducing new challenges from the history of science as well as suggesting adjustments to the divide et impera realist strategy. A new ‘recipe’ for the prospective identification of (at least some) working/idle posits is considered.