Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Scientific realism and the geometric structure of physical theories
by Lackey, Nathan D., M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2016, 69; 10196423
Abstract (Summary)

In this thesis, I argue that the structural geometric changes in physical theory of the 20th century provide a decisive example which supports the pessimistic meta-induction argument against scientific realism. As a result, I conclude that realism about spacetime and its geometric structure is epistemologically unjustified. The first chapter is an introduction to the project and a general outline of the remaining chapters and their sections. Chapter 2 is devoted to providing the necessary mathematical and scientific background for the argumentation that follows. This includes a detailed account of Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometric systems and their application in physical theory. In chapter 3, I argue in favor of the pessimistic meta-induction argument by appealing to the Newton-Einstein shift, and I offer objections to Robert DiSalle’s spacetime realism. Chapter 4 is a rebuttal of John Worrall’s structural realist position and Arthur Fine’s natural ontological attitude. I argue that the Newton-Einstein shift is a development in the history of science that is inconsistent with structural realism. Lastly, I argue that the natural ontological attitude fails because of a mischaracterization of the relationship between philosophy and science.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wright, Cory
Commitee: Klein, Alexander, Rosenkrantz, Max
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Philosophy
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Philosophy of Science
Keywords: Geometry, Realism
Publication Number: 10196423
ISBN: 9781369374988
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