This paper aims to improve critical realism's understanding of emergence by discussing, first, what emergence is and how it works; second, the need for a compositional account of emergence; and third, the implications of emergence for causation. It goes on to argue that the theory of emergence leads to the recognition of certain hitherto neglected similarities between real causal powers and actual causation. (edited).
This critical editorial introduction summarizes and explicates Frederick Will’s pragmatic realism and his account of the nature, assessment, and revision of cognitive and practical norms in connection with: the development of Will’s pragmatic realism, Hume’s problem of induction, the oscillations between foundationalism and coherentism, the nature of philosophical reflection, Kant’s ‘Refutation of Idealism’, the open texture of empirical concepts, the correspondence conception of truth, Putnam’s ‘internal realism’, the redundancy theory of truth, sociology of knowledge, the governance of (...) practice by norms and the assessment and revision of norms in practice, scientific realism, the alleged independence of reason and tradition, rule-following, legal realism, ethical intuitionism and moral relativism, the regress problem (both in epistemology and in moral theory), the paradox of analysis, and culminating in Will’s account of the philosophical governance of norms. These issues are discussed in close consideration of the views of: William Alston, John Dewey, Descartes, Leibniz, Waismann, Austin, Russell, Schlick, Ayer, Richard Rorty, Michael Williams, Hempel, Carnap, Simon Blackburn, Ramsey, Strawson, Kuhn, Wilfrid Sellars, Wittgenstein, Nozick, Dretske, Quine, Barbara Herman, Hardy Jones, Marcus Singer, and Gerd Buchdahl. (shrink)
By deepening Austin’s reflections on the ‘open texture’ of empirical concepts, Frederick L. Will defends an ‘externalist’ account of mental content: as human beings we could not think, were we not in fact cognizant of a natural world structured by events and objects with identifiable and repeatable similarities and differences. I explicate and defend Will’s insight by developing a parallel critique of Kant’s and Carnap’s rejections of realism, both of whom cannot account properly for the content of experience. This (...) critique shows that Will has identified a genuinely transcendental basis for defending common-sense realism, without appeal to any high-level theory of knowledge. I then show how Will’s realism undercuts Simon Blackburn’s quasi-realism, Michael Williams’ partial defense of skepticism, John Haldane’s attempt to rehabilitate Aquinas’ account of concepts, and how it augments Crispin Wright’s defense of realism. (shrink)
Moral disagreement is widely held to pose a threat for metaethical realism and objectivity. In this paper I attempt to understand how it is that moral disagreement is supposed to present a problem for metaethical realism. I do this by going through several distinct (though often related) arguments from disagreement, carefully distinguishing between them, and critically evaluating their merits. My conclusions are rather skeptical: Some of the arguments I discuss fail rather clearly. Others supply with a challenge to (...)realism, but not one we have any reason to believe realism cannot address successfully. Others beg the question against the moral realist, and yet others raise serious objections to realism, but ones that—when carefully stated—can be seen not to be essentially related to moral disagreement. Arguments based on moral disagreement itself have almost no weight, I conclude, against moral realism. (shrink)
This essay argues that the key to understanding Kant's transcendental idealism is to understand the transcendental realism with which he contrasts it. It maintains that the latter is not to be identified with a particular metaphysical thesis, but with the assumption that the proper objects of human cognitions are “objects in general” or “as such,” that is, objects considered simply qua objects of some understanding. Since this appears to conflict with Kant's own characterization of transcendental realism as the (...) view that (mistakenly) regards appearances as if they were things in themselves, the essay explicates the connection between the concepts of an object (or thing) considered as such and a thing considered as it is in itself. In light of this, it maintains that Kant's transcendental idealism is compatible with a robust empirical realism and that many of its critics are tacitly committed to a misguided transcendental realism. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to revisit the phlogiston theory to see what can be learned from it about the relationship between scientific realism, approximate truth and successful reference. It is argued that phlogiston theory did to some extent correctly describe the causal or nomological structure of the world, and that some of its central terms can be regarded as referring. However, it is concluded that the issue of whether or not theoretical terms successfully refer is not the (...) key to formulating the appropriate form of scientific realism in response to arguments from theory change, and that the case of phlogiston theory is shown to be readily accommodated by ontic structural realism. (shrink)
Radical Ontic Structural Realism (ROSR) claims that structure exists independently of objects that may instantiate it. Critics of ROSR contend that this claim is conceptually incoherent, insofar as, (i) it entails there can be relations without relata, and (ii) there is a conceptual dependence between relations and relata. In this essay I suggest that (ii) is motivated by a set-theoretic formulation of structure, and that adopting a category-theoretic formulation may provide ROSR with more support. In particular, I consider how (...) a category-theoretic formulation of structure can be developed that denies (ii), and can be made to do work in the context of formulating theories in physics. Keywords: structural realism, category theory, general relativity.. (shrink)
Stanford, in Exceeding Our Grasp , presents a powerful version of the pessimistic meta-induction. He claims that theories typically have empirically inequivalent but nonetheless well-confirmed, serious alternatives which are unconceived. This claim should be uncontroversial. But it alone is no threat to scientific realism. The threat comes from Stanford’s further crucial claim, supported by historical examples, that a theory’s unconceived alternatives are “radically distinct” from it; there is no “continuity”. A standard realist reply to the meta-induction is that past (...) failures do not imply present ones because present theories are more successful than past ones. I have preferred to emphasize that present methodology is better than past ones. Stanford’s response to the standard reply is surprisingly brief and inadequate. He defends the inference from the uncontroversial claim but not that from the crucial one. He does not show that past discontinuity implies present discontinuity. Realism survives. (shrink)
Although it has been something of a fetish for philosophers to distinguish between hallucination and illusion, the enduring problems for philosophy of perception that both phenomena present are not essentially different. Hallucination, in its pure philosophical form, is just another example of the philosopher’s penchant for considering extreme and extremely idealized cases in order to understand the ordinary. The problem that has driven much philosophical thinking about perception is the problem of how to reconcile our evident direct perceptual contact with (...) objects and properties with the equally evident fact that there is no phenomenological signal separating error and truth. “The obscure object of hallucination” offers a subtle and plausible solution to this problem and one that solves the problem generally, not just in the special case of hallucination. Johnston’s objective is to offer a theory of perception that meets two constraints: (1) that it provide an explanation of the possibility of delusive and veridical sensings that are indistinguishable from the ﬁrst-person perspective and (2) that it count as form of direct realism where this is taken to involve acquaintance with the objects of perception. Johnston uses the ﬁrst constraint to rule out disjunctivism. The second constraint is used to rule out conjunctivism, which as Johnston uses the term, includes most of the widely adopted philosophical theories of perception. Johnston also develops his own sophisticated and interesting theory of perception. In what follows, I will discuss the relation of Johnston’s theory to conjunctivism, examine one of his anti-conjunctivist arguments and ﬁnally compare Johnston’s theory with some other versions of direct realism. These topics constitute a very incomplete selection of the important issues discussed in this rich and interesting paper. I will also not disagree, in any fundamental way, with any of the central theses of Johnston’s discussion.. (shrink)
Since the demise of the Sense-Datum independent objects or events to be objects Theory and Phenomenalism in the last cenof perception; however, unlike Direct Retury, Direct Realism in the philosophy of alists, Indirect Realists take this percepperception has enjoyed a resurgence of tion to be indirect by involving a prior popularity.1 Curiously, however, although awareness of some tertium quid between there have been attempts in the literature the mind and external objects or events.3 to refute some of the arguments (...) against Idealists and Phenomenalists agree with Direct Realism, there has been, as of yet, the Indirect Realists. (shrink)
William James' Radical Empiricist essays offer a unique and powerful argument for direct realism about our perceptions of objects. This theory can be completed with some observations by Kant on the intellectual preconditions for a perceptual judgment. Finally James and Kant deliver a powerful blow to the representational theory of perception and knowledge, which applies quite broadly to theories of representation generally.
David Enoch develops, argues for, and defends Robust Realism--a strongly realist and objectivist view of ethics and normativity, according to which there are perfectly universal and objective moral truths.
This volume collects some influential essays in which Simon Blackburn, one of our leading philosophers, explores one of the most profound and fertile of philosophical problems: the way in which our judgments relate to the world. This debate has centered on realism, or the view that what we say is validated by the way things stand in the world, and a variety of oppositions to it. Prominent among the latter are expressive and projective theories, but also a relaxed pluralism (...) that discourages the view that there are substantial issues at stake. The figure of the "quasi-realist" dramatizes the difficulty of conducting these debates. Typically philosophers thinking of themselves as realists will believe that they alone can give a proper or literal account of some of our attachments--to truth, to facts, to the independent world, to knowledge and certainty. The quasi-realist challenge, developed by Blackburn in this volume, is that we can have those attachments without any metaphysic that deserves to be called realism, so that the metaphysical picture that goes with our practices is quite idle. The cases treated here include the theories of value and knowledge, modality, probability, causation, intentionality and rule-following, and explanation. A substantial new introduction has been added, drawing together some of the central themes. The essays articulate a fresh alternative to a primitive realist/anti-realist opposition, and their cumulative effect is to yield a new appreciation of the delicacy of the debate in these central areas. (shrink)
This paper defends moral realism against Sharon Street’s “Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value” (this journal, 2006). I argue by separation of cases: From the assumption that a certain normative claim is true, I argue that the first horn of the dilemma is tenable for realists. Then, from the assumption that the same normative claim is false, I argue that the second horn is tenable. Either way, then, the Darwinian dilemma does not add anything to realists’ epistemic worries.
Here I first raise an argument purporting to show that Lewis’ Modal Realism ends up being completely trivial. But although I reject this line, the argument reveals how difficult it is to interpret Lewis’ thesis that possibilia “exist.” Four natural interpretations are considered, yet upon reflection, none appear entirely adequate. In particular, under the three different “concretist” interpretations of ‘exist’, Modal Realism looks insufficient for genuine ontological commitment. Whereas under the “multiverse” interpretation, Modal Realism ends up being (...) a theory of physical possibility only. I close with a related, more general dilemma for Modal Realism: Are Lewisian possibilia in the proper domain of physics or not? Since our physics aims to explain everything that exists, it seems so. Yet then the restriction to physical possibilities seems inevitable. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that aim-oriented empiricism provides decisive grounds for accepting scientific realism and rejecting instrumentalism. But it goes further than this. Aim-oriented empiricism implies that physicalism is a central part of current (conjectural) scientific knowledge. Furthermore, we can and need, I argue, to interpret fundamental physical theories as attributing necessitating physical properties to fundamental physical entities.
In this paper I present a transcendental argument based on the findings of cognitive psychology and neurophysiology which invites two conclusions: First and foremost, that a pre-condition of visual perception itself is precisely what the Aristotelian and other commonsense realists maintain, namely, the independent existence of a featured, or pre-packaged world; second, this finding, combined with other reflections, suggests that, contra McDowell and other neo-Kantians, human beings have access to things as they are in the world via non-projective perception. These (...) two conclusions taken together form the basis of Aristotelian metaphysical realism and a refutation of the neo-Kantian two-factor approach to perception. (shrink)
Working from a naïve-realist perspective, I examine first-person knowledge of one's perceptual experience. I outline a naive-realist theory of how subjects acquire knowledge of the nature of their experiences, and I argue that naive realism is compatible with moderate, substantial forms of first-person privileged access. A more general moral of my paper is that treating “success” states like seeing as genuine mental states does not break up the dynamics that many philosophers expect from the phenomenon of knowledge of the (...) mind. (shrink)
Moral Realism is a systematic defence of the idea that there are objective moral standards. Russ Shafer-Landau argues that there are moral principles that are true independently of what anyone, anywhere, happens to think of them. His central thesis, as well as the many novel supporting arguments used to defend it, will spark much controversy among those concerned with the foundations of ethics.
This paper investigates the nature of scientific realism. I begin by considering the anomalous fact that Bas van Fraassen’s account of scientific realism is strikingly similar to Arthur Fine’s account of scientific non-realism. To resolve this puzzle, I demonstrate how the two theorists understand the nature of truth and its connection to ontology, and how that informs their conception of the realism debate. I then argue that the debate is much better captured by the theory of (...) truthmaking, and not by any particular theory of truth. To be a scientific realist is to adopt a realism-relevant account of what makes true the scientific theories one accepts. The truthmaking approach restores realism’s metaphysical core—distancing itself from linguistic conceptions of the debate—and thereby offers a better characterization of what is at stake in the question of scientific realism. (shrink)
Everything you always wanted to know about structural realism but were afraid to ask Content Type Journal Article Pages 227-276 DOI 10.1007/s13194-011-0025-7 Authors Roman Frigg, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE UK Ioannis Votsis, Philosophisches Institut, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Universitätsstraße 1, Geb. 23.21/04.86, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany Journal European Journal for Philosophy of Science Online ISSN 1879-4920 Print ISSN 1879-4912 Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number (...) 2. (shrink)
Are theories 'underdetermined by the evidence' in any way that should worry the scientific realist? I argue that no convincing reason has been given for thinking so. A crucial distinction is drawn between data equivalence and empirical equivalence. Duhem showed that it is always possible to produce a data equivalent rival to any accepted scientific theory. But there is no reason to regard such a rival as equally well empirically supported and hence no threat to realism. Two theories are (...) empirically equivalent if they share all consequences expressed in purely observational vocabulary. This is a much stronger requirement than has hitherto been recognised—two such 'rival' theories must in fact agree on many claims that are clearly theoretical in nature. Given this, it is unclear how much of an impact on realism a demonstration that there is always an empirically equivalent 'rival' to any accepted theory would have—even if such a demonstration could be produced. Certainly in the case of the version of realism that I defend—structural realism—such a demonstration would have precisely no impact: two empirically equivalent theories are, according to structural realism, cognitively indistinguishable. (shrink)
The main aim of this thesis is to defend moral realism. In chapter 1, I argue that moral realism is best understood as the view that (1) moral sentences have truth-value (cognitivism), (2) there are moral properties that make some moral sentences true (success-theory), and (3) moral properties are not reducible to non-moral properties (non-reductionism). Realism is contrasted with non-cognitivism, error-theory and reductionism, which, in brief, deny (1), (2) and (3), respectively. In the introductory chapter, it is (...) also argued that there are some prima facie reasons to assume that non-cognitivism and error-theory are erroneous. In chapters 2 and 3, I suggest that the two main forms of reductionism, analytic and synthetic reductionism, are mistaken. In chapter 4, I argue that the considerations in the previous chapters in relation to non-cognitivism, error-theory and reductionism provide support to moral realism. It is also suggested that these considerations make it plausible to hypothesise that moral properties depend on non-moral properties in a way I refer to as ‘the realist formula’. The realist formula confirms moral realism since it implies that moral properties are not reducible to non-moral properties. In chapters 5, 6 and 7, I argue that moral realism, much owing to the realist formula, is able to explain significant meta-ethical issues regarding moral disagreement, moral reason and moral motivation. Among other things, externalism concerning moral motivation is defended. The explanatory value of moral realism in relation to these meta-ethical issues is taken to suggest that this view is preferable to non-cognitivism, error-theory and reductionism. Some of the meta-ethical issues discussed in these chapters, particularly moral disagreement and motivation, have been thought to provide support to non-cognitivism and error-theory. I maintain that since realism, unlike reductionism, is able to counter these arguments, it justifies us in upholding the view that moral sentences have truth-value and the view that there are moral properties. In chapter 8, various objections against realism with regard to the dependence of moral properties on non-moral properties are responded to. In chapter 9, I consider an influential argument to the effect that moral properties are not involved in causal explanations. I maintain that this argument fails and that it therefore is reasonable to assume that moral properties are natural properties. However, the discussions in chapters 8 and 9 also suggest that moral realism might face problems that cannot be thoroughly discussed in this thesis. (shrink)
Beginning with the paradoxes of zombie twins, we present an argument that dualism is both true and false. We show that avoiding this contradiction is impossible. Our diagnosis is that consciousness itself engenders this contradiction by producing contradictory points of view. This result has a large effect on the realism/anti-realism debate, namely, it suggests that this debate is intractable, and furthermore, it explains why this debate is intractable. We close with some comments on what our results mean for (...) metaphysics and philosophy, in general. (shrink)
Tooley here sets out and defends realist accounts of traditional empiricist explanations of causation and laws of nature, arguing that since reductionist accounts of causation are exposed to decisive objections, empiricists must break with that tradition.
A natural way to think of models is as abstract entities. If theories employ models to represent the world, theories traffic in abstract entities much more widely than is often assumed. This kind of thought seems to create a problem for a scientific realist approach to theories. Scientific realists claim theories should be understood literally. Do they then imply (and are they committed to) the reality of abstract entities? Or are theories simply—and incurably—false (if there are no abstract entities)? Or (...) has the very idea of literal understanding to be abandoned? Is then fictionalism towards scientific theories inevitable? This paper argues that scientific realism can happily co-exist with models qua abstracta. (shrink)
Manuel DeLanda is one of the few admitted realists in present-day continental philosophy, a position he claims to draw from Deleuze. DeLanda conceives of the world as made up of countless layers of assemblages, irreducible to their parts and never dissolved into larger organic wholes. This article supports DeLanda’s position as a refreshing new model for continental thought. It also criticizes his movement away from singular individuals toward disembodied attractors and topological structures lying outside all specific beings. While endorsing DeLanda’s (...)realism, I reject his shift from the actual to the virtual. (shrink)
Mackie drew attention to the distinct semantic and metaphysical claims made by metaethical realists, arguing that although our evaluative discourse is cognitive and objective, there are no objective evaluative facts. This distinction, however, also opens up a reverse possibility: that our evaluative discourse is antirealist, yet objective values do exist. I suggest that this seemingly farfetched possibility merits serious attention; realism seems committed to its intelligibility, and, despite appearances, it isn‘t incoherent, ineffable, inherently implausible or impossible to defend. I (...) argue that reflection on this possibility should lead us to revise our understanding of the debate between realists and antirealists. It is not only that the realist‘s semantic claim is insufficient for realism to be true, as Mackie argued; it‘s not even necessary. Robust metaethical realism is best understood as making a purely metaphysical claim. It is thus not enough for antirealists to show that our discourse is antirealist. They must directly attack the realist‘s metaphysical claim. (shrink)
The author considers how constructivism, presently known to us essentially as a theory for generating rules of social cooperation, embodies a certain conception of justification that in turn may be thought of as a general theory. It is argued that moral realism and projectivism are by turns platitudinous and unsatisfactory as conceptions of justification; by contrast the general conception of justification in constructivism makes sense of reason giving and coherent rivalry. The author argues that once the right picture of (...) justification is in place, the picture constructivism illustrates or embodies, the problem of moral ontology disappears. (shrink)
This is the third volume of Hilary Putnam's philosophical papers, published in paperback for the first time. The volume contains his major essays from 1975 to 1982, which reveal a large shift in emphasis in the 'realist'_position developed in his earlier work. While not renouncing those views, Professor Putnam has continued to explore their epistemological consequences and conceptual history. He now, crucially, sees theories of truth and of meaning that derive from a firm notion of reference as inadequate.
Scientific Realism is the optimistic view that modern science is on the right track: that the world really is the way our best scientific theories describe it to be. In his book, Stathis Psillos gives us a detailed and comprehensive study, which restores the intuitive plausibility of scientific realism. We see that throughout the twentieth century, scientific realism has been challenged by philosophical positions from all angles: from reductive empiricism, to instrumentalism and modern skeptical empiricism. Scientific (...) class='Hi'>Realism explains that the history of science does not undermine the notion of scientific realism, and instead makes it reasonable to accept scientific as the best philosophical account of science, its empirical success, its progress and its practice. Anyone wishing to gain a deeper understanding of the state of modern science and why scientific realism is plausible, should read this book. (shrink)
Disjunctivism about sensory experience is frequently put forward in defence of a particular conception of perception and perceptual experience known as naïve realism. In this paper I present an argument against naïve realism that proceeds through a rejection of disjunctivism. If the naïve realist must also be a disjunctivist about the phenomenal nature of experience, then naïve realism should be abandoned.
It is usually taken for granted that orthodox quantum theory poses a serious problem for scientific realism, in that the theory is empirically extraordinarily successful, and yet has instrumentalism built into it. This paper stand this view on its head. I argue that orthodox quantum theory suffers from a number of serious (if not always noticed) defects precisely because of its inbuilt instrumentalism. This defective character of orthdoox quantum theory thus undermines instrumentalism, and supports scientific realism. I go (...) on to consider whether there is here the basis of a general argument against instrumentalism. (shrink)
In 1974 Putnam was a ‘realist’ in regard to the physical world. By 1981 he had become a 'non-realist' in this regard. (I don’t know where he stands today.) In this paper I argue that his realism was more plausible than his non-realism. The physical world is what it is independently of any rational being’s interpretation of it.
There are currently two main philosophical theories of perception - Direct Realism and the Representative Theory. The former is supported by most contemporary philosophers, whereas the latter forms the groundwork for most scientific theories in this area. The paper describes a recent experiment involving retinal and cortical rivalry that provides strong empirical evidence that the Direct Realist theory is incorrect. There are of course a large number of related experiments on visual perception that would tend to lead us to (...) the same conclusion, but the experiment described in this paper does so in a singularly direct and straightforward manner. Often the most telling experiments are the simplest. (shrink)
I aim to clarify the relationship between the success of a theory and the truth of that theory. This has been a central issue in the debates between realists and anti-realists. Realists assume that success is a reliable indicator of truth, but the details about the respects in which success is a reliable indicator or test of truth have been largely left to our intuitions. Lewis (Synthese 129:371–380, 2001) provides a clear proposal of how success and truth might be connected, (...) comparing a test of success of our theories to medical tests with low rates of false positives and false negatives. But, contrary to what Lewis claims, I argue that it is not enough for the realist to undercut the claim that success is not a reliable indicator of truth. Rather, the realist must show that our current best theories are likely true. Further, I argue that tests in science are unlike medical tests in a number of important ways. (shrink)
There has been an empiricist tradition in the core of Logical Positivism/Empiricism, starting with Moritz Schlick and ending in Herbert Feigl (via Hans Reichenbach), according to which the world of empiricism need not be a barren place devoid of all the explanatory entities posited by scientific theories. The aim of this paper is to articulate this tradition and to explore ways in which its key elements can find a place in the contemporary debate over scientific realism. It presents a (...) way empiricism can go for scientific realism without metaphysical anxiety, by developing an indispensability argument for the adoption of the realist framework. This argument, unlike current realist arguments, has a pragmatic ring to it: there is no ultimate argument for the adoption of the realist framework. (shrink)
Paul Abela presents a powerful, experience-sensitive form of realism about the relation between mind and world, based on an innovative interpretation of Kant. Abela breaks with tradition in taking seriously Kant's claim that his Transcendental Idealism yields a form of empirical realism, and giving a realist analysis of major themes of the Critique of Pure Reason. Abela's blending of Kantian scholarship with contemporary epistemology offers a new way of resolving philosophical debates about realism.
Contemporary Kantianism is often regarded as both a position within normative ethics and as an alternative to metaethical moral realism. We argue that it is not clear how contemporary Kantianism can distinguish itself from moral realism. There are many Kantian positions. For reasons of space we focus on the position of one of the most prominent, contemporary Kantians, Christine Korsgaard. Our claim is that she fails to show either that Kantianism is different or that it is better than (...)realism. Our strategy is to argue that what are supposed to be claims that conflict with realism in fact do not. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to articulate, discuss in detail and criticise Reichenbach's sophisticated and complex argument for scientific realism. Reichenbach's argument has two parts. The first part aims to show how there can be reasonable belief in unobservable entities, though the truth of claims about them is not given directly in experience. The second part aims to extent the argument of the first part to the case of realism about the external world, conceived of as a (...) world of independently existing entities distinct from sensations. It is argued that the success of the first part depends on a change of perspective, where unobservable entities are viewed as projective complexes vis-à-vis their observable symptoms, or effects. It is also argued that there is an essential difference between the two parts of the argument, which Reichenbach comes (somewhat reluctantly) to accept. (shrink)
Scientific realism is the view that our best scientific theories give approximately true descriptions of both observable and unobservable aspects of a mind-independent world. Debates between realists and their critics are at the very heart of the philosophy of science. Anjan Chakravartty traces the contemporary evolution of realism by examining the most promising recent strategies adopted by its proponents in response to the forceful challenges of antirealist sceptics, resulting in a positive proposal for scientific realism today. He (...) examines the core principles of the realist position, and sheds light on topics including the varieties of metaphysical commitment required, and the nature of the conflict between realism and its empiricist rivals. By illuminating the connections between realist interpretations of scientific knowledge and the metaphysical foundations supporting them, his book offers a compelling vision of how realism can provide an internally consistent and coherent account of scientific knowledge. (shrink)
Moral realism of a paradigmatic sort -- Defending the parallel -- The parity premise -- Epistemic nihilism -- Epistemic expressivism : traditional views -- Epistemic expressivism : nontraditional views -- Epistemic reductionism -- Three objections to the core argument.
Realists about practical reasons agree that judgments regarding reasons are beliefs. They disagree, however, over the question of how such beliefs motivate rational action. Some adopt a Humean conception of motivation, according to which beliefs about reasons must combine with independently existing desires in order to motivate rational action; others adopt an anti-Humean view, according to which beliefs can motivate rational action in their own right, either directly or by giving rise to a new desire that in turn motivates the (...) action. I argue that the realist who adopts a Humean model for explaining rational action will have a difficult time giving a plausible account of the role that desire plays in this explanation. I explore four interpretations of this role and argue that none allows a Humean theory to explain rational action as convincingly as an anti-Humean theory does. The first two models, in different ways, make acting on a reason impossible. The third allows this possibility, but only by positing a reason-sensitive desire that itself demands an explanation. The fourth avoids this explanatory challenge only by retreating to an empty form of the Humean view. In contrast, an anti-Humean theory can provide an intuitively plausible explanation of rational action. I conclude that the realist about reasons should adopt an anti-Humean theory to explain rational action. (shrink)
This paper examines pain states (and other intransitive bodily sensations) from the perspective of the problems they pose for pure informational/representational approaches to naturalizing qualia. I start with a comprehensive critical and quasi-historical discussion of so-called Perceptual Theories of Pain (e.g., Armstrong, Pitcher), as these were the natural predecessors of the more modern direct realist views. I describe the theoretical backdrop (indirect realism, sense-data theories) against which the perceptual theories were developed. The conclusion drawn is that pure representationalism about (...) pain in the tradition of direct realist perceptual theories (e.g., Dretske, Tye) leaves out something crucial about the phenomenology of pain experiences, namely, their affective character. I touch upon the role that introspection plays in such representationalist views, and indicate how it contributes to the source of their trouble vis-à-vis bodily sensations. The paper ends by briefly commenting on the relation between the affective/evaluative component of pain and the hedonic valence of emotions. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the ultimate argument for Scientific Realism, also known as the No-Miracles Argument (NMA), ultimately fails as an abductive defence of Epistemic Scientific Realism (ESR), where (ESR) is the thesis that successful theories of mature sciences are approximately true. The NMA is supposed to be an Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) that purports to explain the success of science. However, the explanation offered as the best explanation for success, namely (ESR), fails to (...) yield independently testable predictions that alternative explanations for success do not yield. If this is correct, then there seems to be no good reason to prefer (ESR) over alternative explanations for success. (shrink)
Arguing for mathematical realism on the basis of Field’s explanationist version of the Quine–Putnam Indispensability argument, Alan Baker has recently claimed to have found an instance of a genuine mathematical explanation of a physical phenomenon. While I agree that Baker presents a very interesting example in which mathematics plays an essential explanatory role, I show that this example, and the argument built upon it, begs the question against the mathematical nominalist.