As theories and their theoretical concepts in physics are central to the realism vs antirealism debate, I’m going to be mainly referring to theoretical concepts as it relates to physics. Before I begin I also want to clarify how I understand the meanings of the terms I’m mainly concerned with. These will be the working definitions I will be using in this post.
Realism: the view that theoretical concepts are about real entities, or approximations thereof, and somehow have epistemic value, whether by abductive inference or by association with empirically verified mechanics.
Theoretical concepts on realism: any conceptual framework for mechanical equations or abductively inferred explanation generally of which the subject is unobservable.
Antirealism: the view that theoretical concepts are not about real entities, or approximations thereof, and have no epistemic value, whether by abductive inference or by association with empirically verified mechanics, but are purely instrumental in nature.
Theoretical concepts on antirealism: concepts of unobservable and therefor imagined existence that have no epistemic value, but only have value instrumentally as a conceptual framework in formulating mechanical equations.
Mechanical equations: mathematical descriptions in physics of how generally matter behaves.
I’m becoming more and more convinced that the distinction between theoretical concepts on realism and on antirealism is being used in an arbitrary manner. If antirealism is true then apriori theoretical concepts have no epistemic value, and mechanical equations have no bearing on the epistemic value of theoretical concepts since there isn’t any, nor do theoretical concepts have any bearing on whether or not the mechanical equations are correct since they are verified by observation irrelevant of what theory they are attached to.
On realism I think it can be reasonably demonstrated that the use instrumentally of a theoretical concept as a conceptual framework for mechanical equations has no bearing on that theoretical concept’s epistemic value. Nor is there any bearing on how well mechanical equations in physics work based on whether or not the theoretical concept is true on which it’s conceptual framework is based. I think the latter is quite obviously true, and the way I see it, both can be demonstrated through empirical equivalency.
So either way, on both realism and antirealism, mechanical equations have no epistemic bearing on theoretical concepts, nor do theoretical concepts have any bearing on the accuracy of mechanical equations.
As far as I can tell, anti-realism of any stripe at its core says that abductive inferences, and therefore theoretical concepts if derived from abductive inferences, have no epistemic value, whereas realism of any stripe at its core seems to leave open whether or not abductive inferences do have epistemic value.
However the realist has no logical justification to claim that theoretical concepts are based on reality from simply being associated with particular mechanical formulas. It could only find logical justification through abductively inferring so from observable physical evidence.
As a caveat, an anti-realist can take a constructive empiricism view that even though it can be said that a theoretical concept is about something real, there’s just no way to know if it’s a true or false theoretical concept because of the nature of abductive inferences. Or the other view of logical empiricism can be held that whatever can’t be observed or detected is just imagination, and therefore theoretical concept as abductive inferences concerning unobservables have no significance whatsoever as far as reality is concerned.
However, in order to avoid being arbitrary it seems the same position would have to held for all theoretical concept including those where the core subject of the theoretical concept is unobservable, including theoretical concept for things like abiogenesis, evolution, relativity, and big bang cosmology. That is to say that as an antirealist there’s either no way to know that any theoretical concept is either true or false, or at best, that they’re all only of instrumental value with no real hold on reality.
Now I believe in my last post regarding some of the objections that were raised this arbitrary switching back and forth is one thing that was going on. And to address another objection in my last post, it’s understandable that there are those who dismiss my arguments based on my being a layperson and lacking credentials. However, I would point out that the fact that I am a layperson, and that there are plenty of credentialed individuals on this forum, it would seem like my position, if it were unfounded, should be easily challenged and convincingly beyond any reasonable doubt be shown to be so by any of those credentialed individuals.
So it seems to me that if this particular objection is the best objection some can raise to the arguments I’ve made, there must be some pretty significant merit to the arguments I’m making. And in light of that, unless there are some other objections that I haven’t sufficiently responded to that I’m forgetting about, or not aware of, or until someone can present convincing objections that I don’t have any legitimate response to that refute or rebut the arguments I’ve put forth, I think that I’m at the least more than sufficiently warranted to hold to my positions.