Event Detail

Thu Jan 25, 2018
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
Laura Ruetsche (University of Michigan)
Perturbing Realism

Effective Realism is a new brand of scientific realism. Inspired by both ideologies and technologies of our best contemporary physical theories — the interacting quantum field theories making up the Standard Model of particle physics — Effective Realists aspire to construct resources for identifying features of those theories that will persist through all future refinements of physics. Such persistent features are candidates for realist commitment that promise to resist the affront of the Pessimistic Metainduction—the prediction that our best current theories will share the fate of Newtonian Gravity and every other once-successful physical theory, the fate of joining the dust heap of history. This talk has two aims. The first is to offer an accessible introduction to Effective Realism and the physical and mathematical considerations informing it. The second is to explore how realist Effective Realism is — whether and under what conditions the commitments it undertakes are commitments empiricists would resist. I’ll suggest that this exploration leads to a discovery: of a brand of empiricism even better supported by the ideologies and technologies of contemporary physics than Effective Realism is.