QUESTION TEXT: One approach to the question of which…
QUESTION TYPE: Principle – Strengthen
CONCLUSION: The approach is flawed. [The approach is to say that an object discussed by science is real only if the most powerful explanatory theories in science say the object is real.]
REASONING: Most scientific theories describe things that are only theoretical.
ANALYSIS: This is dense and hard to understand. I’ll use an example:
A scientific theory with powerful explanatory power (it explains things well) might posit (say) that stars exist, and that some subatomic particles exist. We can prove that stars exist in the real world, but we have no non-theoretical proof for many subatomic particles.
According to the principle in the first sentence, we should designate both stars and all subatomic particles as real because a powerful theory says they are real. But the argument implies that it is not appropriate to say that all subatomic particles are real, because our only evidence for some of them is theoretical.
The argument doesn’t show why we should be skeptical of objects that are only theoretical.
- This weakens the argument. The argument claims that not all entities described by science are real.
- CORRECT. The argument is implying that theoretical objects aren’t exactly real, even if our best theories support their existence.
- This goes too far. An example would be: I have a theory that birds have wings. But I shouldn’t talk about any actual birds unless they make my theory even better at explaining the fact that birds have wings. According to this answer choice it’s no longer enough if my theory fully supports the existence of an object. That object must also support my theory.
- The argument isn’t talking about what scientific theories should do. It’s about what we should consider to be real, based on scientific theories.
- Not quite. The argument goes beyond this and implies that theoretical objects should not be considered real, even if they are backed by powerful theories.
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