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date: 22 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter seeks to explore and develop the proposal that even our best scientific theories are not (as the scientific realist would have it) accurate descriptions of how things stand in otherwise inaccessible domains of nature but are instead simply powerful conceptual tools or instruments for engaging practically with the world around us. It describes a number of persistent challenges facing any attempt to apply the American Pragmatists’ global conception of all ideas, beliefs, theories, and cognitions quite generally as such tools or instruments to only a restricted class or category of such entities (such as our best scientific theories) instead. It then seeks to overcome these challenges by regarding scientific instrumentalism as simply applying the scientific realist’s own attitude toward a theory like Newtonian mechanics to even the most empirically successful and instrumentally powerful theory we have in any given scientific domain.

Keywords: instrumentalism, Pragmatism, global instrumentalism, local instrumentalism, scientific instrumentalism, scientific realism, scientific theories, antirealism

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