Catastrophism, Uniformitarianism, and a Scientific Realism Debate That Makes a Difference
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1086/683325
Some scientific realists suggest that scientific communities have improved in their ability to discover alternative theoretical possibilities and that the problem of unconceived alternatives therefore poses a less significant threat to contemporary scientific communities than it did to their historical predecessors. I first argue that the most profound and fundamental historical transformations of the scientific enterprise have actually increased rather than decreased our vulnerability to the problem. I then argue that whether we are troubled by even the prospect of increasing theoretical conservatism in science should depend on the position we occupy in the ongoing debate concerning scientific realism itself.