Seeing Things: The Philosophy of Reliable Observation

Hardcover | October 16, 2013

byRobert Hudson

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In Seeing Things, Robert Hudson assesses a common way of arguing about observation reports called "robustness reasoning." Robustness reasoning claims that an observation report is more likely to be true if the report is produced by multiple, independent sources. Seeing Things argues thatrobustness reasoning lacks the special value it is often claimed to have. Hudson exposes key flaws in various popular philosophical defenses of robustness reasoning. This philosophical critique of robustness is extended by recounting five episodes in the history of science (from experimentalmicrobiology, atomic theory, astrophysics and astronomy) where robustness reasoning is - or could be claimed to have been - used. Hudson goes on to show that none of these episodes do in fact exhibit robustness reasoning. In this way, the significance of robustness reasoning is rebutted on bothphilosophical and historical grounds. But the book does more than critique robustness reasoning. It also develops a better defense of the informative value of observation reports. The book concludes by relating insights into the failure of robustness reasoning to a popular approach to scientific realism called "(theoretical)preservationism." Hudson argues that those who defend this approach to realism commit similar errors to those who advocate robustness reasoning. In turn, a new form of realism is formulated and defended. Called "methodological preservationism," it recognizes the fundamental value of naked eyeobservation to scientists - and the rest of us.

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In Seeing Things, Robert Hudson assesses a common way of arguing about observation reports called "robustness reasoning." Robustness reasoning claims that an observation report is more likely to be true if the report is produced by multiple, independent sources. Seeing Things argues thatrobustness reasoning lacks the special value it i...

Robert Hudson received his Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Science from the University of Western Ontario in 1992. He has taught at a number of universities throughout North America, and has been at the University of Saskatchewan since 2001. He works mainly in the areas of epistemology and the history and philosophy of science.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:October 16, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199303282

ISBN - 13:9780199303281

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction1. For and Against RobustnessThe 'No-Miracle' Argument for RobustnessProbabilistic Approaches to RobustnessPragmatic Approaches to RobustnessEpistemic Independence Approaches to RobustnessSummary2. The Mesosome: a Case of Mistaken ObservationIntroducing the Mesosome: Rasmussen and CulpThe Mesosome ExperimentsReliable Process ReasoningRasmussen's Indeterminism3. The WIMP: the Value of Model-IndependenceDark Matter and WIMPsDAMA's Model-Independent ApproachModel-Dependent ApproachesAn Historical Argument Against RobustnessReliable Process Reasoning4. Perrin's Atoms and MoleculesPerrin's TableThe Viscosity of GasesBrownian Movement: Vertical Distributions in EmulsionsBrownian Movement: Displacement, Rotation and Diffusion of Brownian Particles Taking StockPerrin's Realism about Molecules5. Dark Matter and Dark EnergyDark Matter and the Bullet ClusterType Ia Supernovae and Dark EnergyDefeating Systematic Errors: the Smoking GunRobustness in the Dark Energy Case?6. Final Considerations Against RobustnessIndependence and the Core ArgumentThe Need for Independence Does Not Equal the Need for Robustness The Converse to Robustness is Normally ResistedThe Corroborating Witness: Not a Case of RobustnessNo Robustness Found in Mathematics and LogicRobustness Fails to Ground Representational AccuracyThe Sociological Dimension of Robus7. Robustness and Scientific RealismThe No-Miracle Argument for Scientific RealismIn Support of Theoretical PreservationismObjections to Theoretical PreservationismRealism, the Pessimistic Induction and PreservationismThe Improved Standards Response: 'Methodological Preservationism'ConclusionAppendix 1Appendix 2Appendix 3Appendix 4BibliographyIndex