Some Difficulties for the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives

  title={Some Difficulties for the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives},
  author={Samuel Ruhmkorff},
  journal={Philosophy of Science},
  pages={875 - 886}
P. Kyle Stanford defends the problem of unconceived alternatives, which maintains that scientists are unlikely to conceive of all the scientifically plausible alternatives to the theories they accept. Stanford’s argument has been criticized on the grounds that the failure of individual scientists to conceive of relevant alternatives does not entail the failure of science as a corporate body to do so. I consider two replies to this criticism and find both lacking. In the process, I argue that… 
New objections to the problem of unconceived alternatives
The problem of unconceived alternatives can be undermined, regardless of whether the possibility space of alternatives is bounded or unbounded. If it is bounded, pessimists need to justify their
Unconceived alternatives and the cathedral problem
It is argued there are prima facie reasons to endorse a form of voluntarism in this situation according to which scientists and others may rationally be more optimistic or more pessimistic about the truth of the authors' best theories, on the grounds that the widespread acceptance of an obligation to be an instrumentalist threatens to disrupt the proper functioning of science.
Expanding Our Grasp: Causal Knowledge and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives
  • M. Egg
  • Philosophy
    The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
  • 2016
I argue that scientific realism, insofar as it is only committed to those scientific posits of which we have causal knowledge, is immune to Kyle Stanford’s argument from unconceived alternatives.
Historical Inductions, Unconceived Alternatives, and Unconceived Objections
In this paper, I outline a reductio against Stanford’s “New Induction” on the History of Science, which is an inductive argument against scientific realism that is based on what Stanford (2006) calls
How to Overcome Antirealists’ Objections to Scientific Realism
Van Fraassen contends that there is no argument that rationally compels us to disbelieve a successful theory, T. I object that this contention places upon him the burden of showing that scientific
Scientific Antirealists Have Set Fire to Their Own Houses
Scientific antirealists run the argument from underconsideration against scientific realism. I argue that the argument from underconsideration backfires on antirealists’ positive philosophical
Refutations of the Two Pessimistic Inductions
Both the pessimistic inductions over scientific theories and over scientists are built upon what I call proportional pessimism: as theories are discarded, the inductive rationale for concluding that
Should scientific realists embrace theoretical conservatism?
Justifying the Special Theory of Relativity with Unconceived Methods
Many realists argue that present scientific theories will not follow the fate of past scientific theories because the former are more successful than the latter. Critics object that realists need to
Convergence argument against the challenge of “unconceived alternative theories”
Kyle Stanford (2001, 2006a) poses a new challenge to scientific realism, known as the “new pessimistic induction.” According to him, for each theory chosen by scientists, a class of theories exists


What’s New about the New Induction?
This paper examines Stanford’s New Induction and argues that it – like the other forms of underdetermination that he criticizes – merely recapitulates familiar philosophical conundra.
Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History, and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives
The incredible achievements of modern scientific theories lead most of us to embrace scientific realism: the view that our best theories offer us at least roughly accurate descriptions of otherwise
Forever beyond our grasp?
Does science successfully uncover the deep structure of the natural world? Or are the depths forever beyond our epistemic grasp? Since the decline of logical positivism and logical empiricism,
Scientific Inference
SCIENTISTS generally care so little for scientific principles that the title of this book may repel as many as its author's name attracts. Let it be, therefore, stated at once that it is not a formal
Recurrent transient underdetermination and the glass half full
Kyle Stanford’s arguments against scientific realism are assessed, with a focus on the underdetermination of theory by evidence. I argue that discussions of underdetermination have neglected a
Bayes or Bust?—A Critical Examination of Bayesian Confirmation Theory
Bayes' Bayesianism the machinery of modern Bayesianism success stories challenges met the problem of old evidence the rationality and objectivity of scientific inference a plea for eliminative
Bayes or Bust? A Critical Examination of Bayesian Confirmation Theory
Bayes' Bayesianism the machinery of modern Bayesianism success stories challenges met the problem of old evidence the rationality and objectivity of scientific inference a plea for eliminative