Reading Group: TRUTH & SCIENTIFIC CHANGE (Pessimistic Meta-Induction)

Organizer: Prof. Gila Sher, University of California San Diego, Visiting Senior Researcher, Edelstein Center

When: Sundays, every other week, November — December 2017.

Where: Either Givat Ram or Har Hatzofim.

First meeting: Sunday, November 5, 16:00-17:30. Givat Ram, Edelstein Center.

Permanent place and time: to be decided in first meeting.

Guiding Questions and Approach:

Starting with the ideas that (i) truth, and in particular the correspondence relation between theories and the world, might be more complex and varied than we usually take it to be (copy, isomorphism), and (ii) that rather than decide in advance what the correspondence relation is, we should look and see (investigate) what it is, how it might vary from field to field, and what special issues are involved in different fields, we will ask:

1. What does the phenomenon of scientific change and the related pessimistic meta-induction teach us about correspondence truth and realism in science?

2. Does the new approach to correspondence truth indicated in (i) and (ii) above lead to a new outlook on scientific change and suggest a new solution to the problem of pessimistic meta-induction?

Readings will include recent works on truth, scientific realism, and pessimistic meta-induction. The exact reading list will be determined in consultation with the participants during the first meeting.

Content of first meeting (Sunday, Nov. 5, 16-17:30, Edelstein Center, Givat Ram, Levi Building, 3rd floor).

A. 16:00-17:00 — Overview of Truth & Scientific Change

B. 17:00-17:30 — Decisions on time, location, dates, and readings (by majority vote).


1. Following the first, introductory meeting, there will be 4 additional meetings.

Time, Location, and Dates Options: Sundays 13:30-15:00, earlier or later on Sundays, a different day of the week. Givat Ram, Har Hatzofim.

If we meet on Sundays: Either Nov. 12, 26 and Dec. 10, 24, or Nov. 19 and Dec. 3, 24, 31.

2. Tentative topics:

Meeting 2: Truth: Substantivism vs. Deflationism, An Epistemic-Cognitivist Perspective on Truth, Pluralism vs. Monism, Naive vs. Enlightened Correspondence, Example: Mathematical Correspondence.

Meeting 3: Scientific Realism and Anti-Realism, The No-Miracle and Best-Explanation Arguments for Scientific Realism, The Pessimistic Meta-Induction Challenge to Scientific Realism and the Correspondence Conception of Truth in Science.

Meeting 4: Objections to the Pessimistic Meta-Induction arguments: (i) Invalid-Induction Arguments, (ii) Optimistic Induction.

Meeting 5: (a) What Does Scientific Change Teach Us About Truth? What Do New Approaches to Truth Teach Us About Scientific Change (Pessimistic Meta-Induction)? (b) Participants’ Conclusions & New Ideas.

3. Tentative Readings:

Meeting 1: No Readings

Meeting 2: Epistemic Friction: An Essay on Knowledge, Truth, and Logic, Gila Sher, Oxford, 2016. Part III: The Structure of Truth, Pp. 131-175, 186-218.

Meeting 3: “Truth and the Sciences”, Anjan Chakravartty. in M. Glanzberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Truth, Oxford University Press (forthcoming 2017).

“A Confutation of Convergent Realism”, Larry Laudan, Philosophy of Science,1981. Meeting 4:

“Why the Pessimistic Induction is a Fallacy”, Peter Lewis, Synthese 1981.

“Optimism about the Pessimistic Induction”, Shrrilyn Roush. In New Waves in Philosophy of Science, eds. P.D. Magnus & J. Busch, 2010.

“The History of Science as a Graveyard of Theories: A Philosophers’ Myth”. Moti Mizrahi, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 2016.

Meeting 5:  “Truth & Scientific Change”, Gila Sher, Journal of General Philosophy of Science, 2017.

All are invited!

If you are interested but cannot make it to the first meeting, please contact me at Feedback and requests concerning time, location, content, and readings are very welcome.