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Scientific Realism

An Elaboration and a Defence

Howard Sankey

My aim in this paper is to present the basic elements of scientific realism and the major lines of argument in support of the position. So as not to define scientific realism by contrast with any specific opposing position, I will state the position and the arguments for it in as general a manner as possible. There is a broad range of positions opposed to scientific realism. The opposition is not limited to any specific aspect of realism. Nor is it limited to any one single line of anti-realist argument. The main point I wish to make is that there are a number of different arguments which work together to support scientific realism. Realists often speak as if there is one argument, the so-called success or “no miracles” argument, which is the argument for scientific realism. While this argument no doubt plays a central role in the argument for scientific realism, it is only one of a battery of arguments which make up the case for scientific realism.

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