Knowing the Unobservable
Cambridge University Press 2007
Near the opening of his book A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable (Cambridge University Press, 2007; paperback 2010), Anjan Chakravartty warns readers: snack before reading! Though the occasional exemplary slice of pumpkin pie and chocolate fudge brownies do sweetly sprinkle the narrative, fear not, intrepid reader: most of A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism is devoted to providing a unified account of a metaphysical proposal in support of one of the most crucial concepts in the philosophy of science, scientific realism. In the course of his masterfully written account, Chakravartty explains the core elements of major versions of contemporary realism with exceptional clarity, laying the foundations in a systematic way that makes the contours of the major debates around scientific realism comprehensible even to readers new to the philosophy of science. After a Part I that lays a foundation for the work, offering an account of the central commitments of realism as they have evolved over time, Parts II and III of the book delve more deeply into the metaphysical and epistemological issues surrounding the theories and claims about unobservable objects in the practice and history of science. It is a wonderfully rich and clearly organized work that is written with a sense of humor and rewards a close reading, and we had a good time talking about it. Enjoy!