What is the argument for the natural ontological attitude?
Arthur Fine presented the Natural Ontological Attitude (NOA) as a third alternative between scientific realism and anti-realism by identifying a core position contained in both and rejecting any philosophical addition to this core. At first, Fine’s proposal was understood as offering a doxastic middle ground between believing in the truth of a theory and believing in its empirical adequacy. In this reading, NOA was widely disregarded after Alan Musgrave’s criticisms of it, which characterized Fine’s proposal as a form of realism. After that, NOA was reinterpreted as a local variety of realism focused in changing the attitude used to settle the scientific realism debate, by rejecting global philosophies with an approach external to science, and by considering only the scientific evidence with a contextualist mood. Although this reading clarifies how to understand NOA, there is still no consensus about what is Fine’s argument to support it. I organize the four main interpretations of Fine’s defense and point their main flaws. Finally, I develop some clarifications about NOA in order to solve the flaws of the preceding interpretations, defending that NOA is based upon a prevalence of the epistemic values actually used in scientific practice.
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