Academic year
José Díez
Department of Philosophy
Universitat de Barcelona
Master courses
Module 7. Issues in Contemporary Theoretical and Practical Philosophy
2014-10-09 - 2014-12-18
Thu. 16-19
Room 412, Facultat de Filosofia, UB


In this course we will analyze the last three decades of the debate on scientific realism, from van Fraassen's constructive empiricism to Psillos' selective realism 

1. Introduction. Types of anti/realism

2. The prima facie cases for scientific realism and antirealism

3. Varieties of scientific anti/realism

3. Van Fraassen's constructive empiricism

4. Lipton and Boyd on non miracles and inference to best explanation

5. Laudan's pesimistic induction

6. Post-pesimistic induction: Non- miracle argument revisited Fine's deflationism


After two/three introductory sessions, every student will present one of the papers for discussion.


Grading will consist in short questions for every read paper, class presentation and final paper.

Intended Learning Outcomes:

CB6 – Students should be able to acquire and critically understand central philosophical theories in a way that puts them in a position to develop and apply original ideas.


CB9 - Students should be able to communicate their knowledge and their arguments to specialized audiences in a clear and articulate way.

CG1. To abstract, analyze and elaborate valid arguments and identify logical fallacies.

CG2. Design, create, develop and undertake new and innovative projects in their area of expertise.

CG3. Switching between the general and detailed discussion, providing real or imaginary examples able to support or refute the position at stake.

CG4. Working both independently and in a team in international contexts.

CG5. Identify methodological errors, rhetorical, conventional or uncritical assumptions, and vague or vacuous theses.

CE1. Recognize the concepts and methods of contemporary analytical philosophy and use them in the formulation and defense of philosophical proposals

CE2. Identify the core arguments and theories of contemporary theoretical philosophy.

CE4. Assess the writings of leading contemporary analytic philosophers.

CE5. Identify ideas on the most advance contemporary philosophical debate and research.


CE7. Using specialized, critical philosophical terminology.


- Boyd, R. N., 1983, ‘On the Current Status of the Issue of Scientific realism’, Erkenntnis, 19: 45–90.

- Carnap, R., 1950, ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’, Revue Intérnationale de Philosophie, 4: 20–40. Reprinted in Carnap, R. 1956: Meaning and Necessity: A Study in Semantic and Modal Logic, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

- Chakravartty, A., 1998, ‘Semirealism’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 29: 391–408.

- Chakravartty, A.,  2008, ‘What You Don't Know Can't Hurt You: Realism and the Unconceived’, Philosophical Studies,137: 149–158.

- Ellis, B., 1985, ‘What Science Aims to Do’, in Churchland et alt (eds.), Images of Science

- Fine, A., 1986, ‘Unnatural Attitudes: Realist and Antirealist Attachments to cience’, Mind, 95: 149–177.

 - Frigg, R. and Votsis, I.  ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Structural Realism But Were Afraid to Ask', European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1, 2011, 227–276, 

- Giere, R., 1985,  'Constructive Empiricism', in Churchland et alt (eds.), Images of Science

- Hacking, I., 1985, ‘Do We See Through a Microscope?’, in Churchland & Hooker (eds.), Images of Science: Essays on Realism and Empiricism, (with a reply from Bas C. van Fraassen), Chicago: University of Chicago Press. - Laudan, L., 1981, ‘A Confutation of Convergent Realism’, Philosophy of  Science, 48: 19–48.

- Ladyman, J., 1998, ‘What is Structural Realism?’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 29: 409–424.

- Laudan, L., 1981, ‘A Confutation of Convergent Realism’, Philosophy of  Science, 48: 19–48.

- Leplin, J., 1981, ‘Truth and Scientific Progress’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 12: 269–292.

- Maxwell, G., 1962, ‘On the Ontological Status of Theoretical Entities’, in H. Feigl & G. Maxwell (eds.), Scientific Explanation, Space, and Time, Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume III, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

- Papineau, D., 2010, ‘Realism, Ramsey Sentences and the Pessimistic Meta-Induction’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 41: 375–385.

- Psillos, S. 1999, 'Resisting the pesimistic induction', ch. 5 of Scientific Realism, 

- Psillos, S, 2000, 'Empiricism vs Scientific Realism: Belief in Truth Matters', International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 14, pp.57-75.

- Psillos, S. 2011, ‘Realism with Humean face’, in French and Saatsi (eds.) Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Science.

- Stanford, P., 2003, 'Pyrrhic Victories for Scientific Realism’, Journal of Philosophy, 100: 553–572.

- Van Fraassen, B., 1976, ‘To Save the Phenomena’, Journal of Philosophy, 73/18, 623-32 (reprinted as ch. 3 of The Scientific Image)

- Van Fraassen, B., 1980, ‘Arguments Concernig Scientific Realism’, ch. 2 of The Scientific Image)

- Worrall, J., 1989, ‘Structural Realism: The Best of Both Worlds?’, Dialectica, 43: 99–124.