Defending the selective confirmation strategy.

Research paper by Yukinori Y Onishi

Indexed on: 19 Oct '17Published on: 19 Oct '17Published in: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A


Most scientific realists today in one way or another confine the object of their commitment to certain components of a successful theory and thereby seek to make realism compatible with the history of theory change. Kyle Stanford calls this move by realists the strategy of selective confirmation and raises a challenge against its contemporary, reliable applicability. In this paper, I critically examine Stanford's inductive argument that is based on past scientists' failures to identify the confirmed components of their contemporary theories. I argue that our ability to make such identification should be evaluated based on the performance of the scientific community as a whole rather than that of individual scientists and that Stanford's challenge fails to raise a serious concern because it focuses solely on individual scientists' judgments, which are either made before the scientific community has reached a consensus or about the value of the posit as a locus for further research rather than its confirmed status.