Continental Philosophy Review 54 (4):437-452 (2020)

Lee Hardy
Calvin College
In this study I argue that Husserl’s phenomenology is compatible with a realistic interpretation of scientific theories. That said, I distinguish between the realistic interpretation of scientific theories and scientific realism. The former holds that the theoretical terms of a scientific theory are intended to refer, and that if we have good reason to believe that a scientific theory is true then we also have good reason to believe the entities it refers to exist. Scientific realism holds that the world as described by the physical sciences not only exists, it is the only world that exists—the world of everyday perceptual experience must be demoted to the status of a mere appearance. My case for the compatibility of Husserl’s phenomenology with a realistic interpretation of scientific theories is based on a distinction between scientific laws and scientific theories. I hold that Husserl’s instrumentalism, if one can call it that, is restricted to an interpretation of scientific laws; accordingly, his anti-realism is directed against the reification of ideal objects constructed in the course of the exact mathematical representation of scientific laws, not against the theoretical entities postulated in the explanation of those laws. At the end of the study I seek to allay the fear that if one adopts a realistic interpretation of scientific theories one is thereby committed to some version of scientific realism.
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-020-09512-x
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References found in this work BETA

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Science, Perception and Reality.Wilfrid Sellars (ed.) - 1963 - New York: Humanities Press.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.

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