The Virtues of Science

A full draft of my book can be downloaded here: The Virtues of Science.

The book tackles two central, interrelated, questions in the philosophy of science: “what is it that makes a scientific theory good, or ‘virtuous’ and “do scientific theories help us discover what’s real?”. An answer to the latter question depends on a satisfactory answer to the former question: only when we have grounds for thinking that our theories are good ones can we be justified in believing that our theories can help us uncover the furniture of the world. The book argues that we do have such justification on the basis of four new arguments, all of which appeal to a theory’s virtues: (i) the argument from simplicity, (ii) the argument from virtue convergence, (iii) the argument from coherence, and (iv) the argument from choice.

The table of contents is as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Theoretical virtues, truth, and the argument from simplicity
  3. Pessimism, base rates, and the no-virtue-coincidence argument
  4. Novel success
  5. Theoretical fertility without novel success
  6. Ad hoc hypotheses and the argument from coherence
  7. Theoretical virtues as confidence boosters and the argument from choice
  8. Philosophy of science by historical means
  9. Conclusion and outlook: the demarcation problem