Realist principles

Philosophy of Science 50 (2):227-249 (1983)
Abstract
We list, with discussions, various principles of scientific realism, in order to exhibit their diversity and to emphasize certain serious problems of formulation. Ontological and epistemological principles are distinguished. Within the former category, some framed in semantic terms (truth, reference) serve their purpose vis-a-vis instrumentalism (Part 1). They fail, however, to distinguish the realist from a wide variety of (constructional) empiricists. Part 2 seeks purely ontological formulations, so devised that the empiricist cannot reconstruct them from within. The main task here is to characterize "independence of mind". A pair of notions, "physical invariance" and "anti-determination", seem to work. They enable us to assess anew "the problem of constructing the physical out of the phenomenal" (yielding certain clarifications demanded by Goodman). Modern cosmology, especially, is seen to present insuperable obstacles to such empiricist approaches to science. The final section on epistemological principles reveals a morass better avoided in favor of an elementary claim about perception, together with a rejection of any absolute observation/theory dichotomy. Finally, a positive, realist notion of "observable-in-principle" is sketched, and it is suggested that, from the perspective of relativistic cosmology, even this defines no boundary to potential knowledge
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Manfred Stöckler (1986). Philosophen in der Mikrowelt — Ratlos? Journal for General Philosophy of Science 17 (1):68-95.
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