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Understanding the selective realist defence against the PMI

Vickers, Peter

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One of the popular realist responses to the pessimistic meta-induction (PMI) is the ‘selective’ move, where a realist only commits to the ‘working posits’ of a successful theory, and withholds commitment to ‘idle posits’. Antirealists often criticise selective realists for not being able to articulate exactly what is meant by ‘working’ and/or not being able to identify the working posits except in hindsight. This paper aims to establish two results: (i) sometimes a proposition is, in an important sense, ‘doing work’, and yet does not warrant realist commitment, and (ii) the realist will be able to respond to PMI-style historical challenges if she can merely show that certain selected posits do not require realist commitment (ignoring the question of which posits do). These two results act to significantly adjust the dialectic vis-à-vis PMI-style challenges to selective realism.


Vickers, P. (2017). Understanding the selective realist defence against the PMI. Synthese, 194(9), 3221-3232.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 23, 2016
Online Publication Date Apr 11, 2016
Publication Date Sep 1, 2017
Deposit Date Jun 6, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 14, 2016
Journal Synthese
Print ISSN 0039-7857
Electronic ISSN 1573-0964
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 194
Issue 9
Pages 3221-3232
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Published Journal Article (426 Kb)

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