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)
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.
A century after the discovery of quantum mechanics, the meaning of quantum mechanics still remains elusive. This is largely due to the puzzling nature of the wave function, the central object in quantum mechanics. If we are realists about quantum mechanics, how should we understand the wave function? What does it represent? What is its physical meaning? Answering these questions would improve our understanding of what it means to be a realist about quantum mechanics. In this survey article, I review (...) and compare several realist interpretations of the wave function. They fall into three categories: ontological interpretations, nomological interpretations, and the sui generis interpretation. For simplicity, I will focus on non-relativistic quantum mechanics. (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)
This paper provides a critical overview of the realist current in contemporary political philosophy. We define political realism on the basis of its attempt to give varying degrees of autonomy to politics as a sphere of human activity, in large part through its exploration of the sources of normativity appropriate for the political and so distinguish sharply between political realism and non-ideal theory. We then identify and discuss four key arguments advanced by political realists: from ideology, from the (...) relationship of ethics to politics, from the priority of legitimacy over justice and from the nature of political judgement. Next, we ask to what extent realism is a methodological approach as opposed to a substantive political position and so discuss the relationship between realism and a few such positions. We close by pointing out the links between contemporary realism and the realist strand that runs through much of the history of Western political thought. (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.
The no-miracles argument for realism and the pessimistic meta-induction for anti-realism pull in opposite directions. Structural Realism---the position that the mathematical structure of mature science reflects reality---relieves this tension.
This essay contains a partial exploration of some key concepts associated with the epistemology of realist philosophies of science. It shows that neither reference nor approximate truth will do the explanatory jobs that realists expect of them. Equally, several widely-held realist theses about the nature of inter-theoretic relations and scientific progress are scrutinized and found wanting. Finally, it is argued that the history of science, far from confirming scientific realism, decisively confutes several extant versions of avowedly 'naturalistic' forms of (...) scientific realism. (shrink)
Following on from Roy Bhaskar’s first two books, A Realist Theory of Science and The Possibility of Naturalism, Scientific Realism and Human Emancipation, establishes the conception of social science as explanatory—and thence emancipatory—critique. _Scientific Realism and Human Emancipation_ starts from an assessment of the impasse of contemporary accounts of science as stemming from an incomplete critique of positivism. It then proceeds to a systematic exposition of scientific realism in the form of transcendental realism, highlighting a conception (...) of science as explanatory of a structured, differentiated and changing world. Turning to the social domain, the book argues for a view of the social order as conditioned by, and emergent from, nature. Advocating a critical naturalism, the author shows how the transformational model of social activity together with the conception of social science as explanatory critique which it entails, resolves the divisions and dualisms besetting orthodox social and normative theory: between society and the individual, structure and agency, meaning and behavior, mind and body, reason and cause, fact and value, and theory and practice. The book then goes on to discuss the emancipatory implications of social science and sketches the nature of the depth investigation characteristically entailed. In the highly innovative third part of the book Roy Bhaskar completes his critique of positivism by developing a theory of philosophical discourse and ideology, on the basis of the transcendental realism and critical naturalism already developed, showing how positivism functions as a restrictive ideology of and for science and other social practices. (shrink)
Publisher's description: The realistic spirit, a nonmetaphysical approach to philosophical thought concerned with the character of philosophy itself, informs all of the discussions in these essays by philosopher Cora Diamond. Diamond explains Wittgenstein's notoriously elusive later writings, explores the background to his thought in the work of Frege, and discusses ethics in a way that reflects his influence. Diamond's new reading of Wittgenstein challenges currently accepted interpretations and shows what it means to look without mythology at the coherence, commitments, and (...) connections that are distinctive of the mind. (shrink)
The target article is an attempt to make some progress on the problem of color realism. Are objects colored? And what is the nature of the color properties? We defend the view that physical objects (for instance, tomatoes, radishes, and rubies) are colored, and that colors are physical properties, specifically types of reflectance. This is probably a minority opinion, at least among color scientists. Textbooks frequently claim that physical objects are not colored, and that the colors are "subjective" or (...) "in the mind." The article has two other purposes: first, to introduce an interdisciplinary audience to some distinctively philosophical tools that are useful in tackling the problem of color realism and, second, to clarify the various positions and central arguments in the debate. (shrink)
Social constructionism is often considered a form of anti-realism. But in contemporary feminist philosophy, an increasing number of philosophers defend views that are well-described as both realist and social constructionist. In this paper, I use the work of Sally Haslanger as an example of realist social constructionism. I argue: that Haslanger is best interpreted as defending metaphysical realism about social structures; that this type of metaphysical realism about the social world presents challenges to some popular ways of (...) understanding metaphysical realism. (shrink)
In this major new work, Matthew Kramer seeks to establish two main conclusions. On the one hand, moral requirements are strongly objective. On the other hand, the objectivity of ethics is itself an ethical matter that rests primarily on ethical considerations. Moral realism - the doctrine that morality is indeed objective - is a moral doctrine. Major new volume in our new series _New Directions in Ethics_ Takes on the big picture - defending the objectivity of ethics whilst rejecting (...) the grounds of much of the existing debate between realists and anti-realists Cuts across both ethical theory and metaethics Distinguished by the quality of the scholarship and its ambitious range. (shrink)
Anti-realism is a doctrine about logic, language, and meaning that is based on the work of Wittgenstein and Frege. In this book, Professor Tennant clarifies and develops Dummett's arguments for anti-realism and ultimately advocates a radical reform of our logical practices.
I argue that a common philosophical approach to the interpretation of physical theories—particularly quantum field theories—has led philosophers astray. It has driven many to declare the quantum field theories employed by practicing physicists, so-called ‘effective field theories’, to be unfit for philosophical interpretation. In particular, such theories have been deemed unable to support a realist interpretation. I argue that these claims are mistaken: attending to the manner in which these theories are employed in physical practice, I show that interpreting effective (...) field theories yields a robust foundation for a more refined approach to scientific realism in the context of quantum field theory. The paper concludes by briefly sketching some general morals for interpretive practice in the philosophy of physics. (shrink)
This book is a systematic and constructive treatment of a number of traditional issues at the foundation of ethics, the possibility and nature of moral knowledge, the relationship between the moral point of view and a scientific or naturalistic world view, the nature of moral value and obligation, and the role of morality in a person's rational life plan. In striking contrast to many traditional authors and to other recent writers in the field, David Brink offers an integrated defense of (...) the objectivity of ethics. (shrink)
We report the results of a study that investigated the views of researchers working in seven scientific disciplines and in history and philosophy of science in regard to four hypothesized dimensions of scientific realism. Among other things, we found that natural scientists tended to express more strongly realist views than social scientists, that history and philosophy of science scholars tended to express more antirealist views than natural scientists, that van Fraassen’s characterization of scientific realism failed to cluster with (...) more standard characterizations, and that those who endorsed the pessimistic induction were no more or less likely to endorse antirealism. (shrink)
This paper describes the position of scientific realism and presents the basic lines of argument for the position. Simply put, scientific realism is the view that the aim of science is knowledge of the truth about observable and unobservable aspects of a mind-independent, objective reality. Scientific realism is supported by several distinct lines of argument. It derives from a non-anthropocentric conception of our place in the natural world, and it is grounded in the epistemology and metaphysics of (...) common sense. Further, the success of science entitles us to infer both the approximate truth of mature scientific theories and the truth-conduciveness of the methods of science. (shrink)
String theory promises to be able to provide us with a working theory of quantum gravity and a unified description of all fundamental forces. In string theory there are so called ‘dualities’; i.e. different theoretical formulations that are physically equivalent. In this article these dualities are investigated from a philosophical point of view. Semantic and epistemic questions relating to the problem of underdetermination of theories by data and the debate on realism concerning scientific theories are discussed. Depending on ones (...) views on semantic issues and realism different interpretations are possible of the dualities. (shrink)
Mathematicians tend to think of themselves as scientists investigating the features of real mathematical things, and the wildly successful application of mathematics in the physical sciences reinforces this picture of mathematics as an objective study. For philosophers, however, this realism about mathematics raises serious questions: What are mathematical things? Where are they? How do we know about them? Offering a scrupulously fair treatment of both mathematical and philosophical concerns, Penelope Maddy here delineates and defends a novel version of mathematical (...)realism. She answers the traditional questions and poses a challenging new one, refocusing philosophical attention on the pressing foundational issues of contemporary mathematics. (shrink)
Since the publication of Roy Bhaskar's A Realist Theory of Science in 1975, critical realism has emerged as one of the most powerful new directions in the philosophy of science and social science, offering a real alternative to both positivism and postmodernism. This reader makes accessible in one volume key readings to stimulate debate about and within critical realism, including: the transcendental realist philosophy of science elaborated in A Realist Theory of Science ; Bhaskar's critical naturalist philosophy of (...) social science; the theory of explanatory critique, which is central to critical realism; and the theme of dialectic, which is central to Bhaskar's most recent writings. The volume includes extracts from Bhaskar's most important books, as well as selections from all of the other most important contributors to the critical realist program. It also includes both a general introduction and original introductions to each section. (shrink)
SummaryThe main argument for scientific realism is that our present theories in science are so successful empirically that they can't have got that way by chance ‐ instead they must somehow have latched onto the blueprint of the universe. The main argument against scientific realism is that there have been enormously successful theories which were once accepted but are now regarded as false. The central question addressed in this paper is whether there is some reasonable way to have (...) the best of both worlds: to give the argument from scientific revolutions its full weight and yet still adopt some sort of realist attitude towards presently accepted theories in physics and elsewhere. I argue that there is such a way ‐ through structural realism, a position adopted by Poincare, and here elaborated and defended. (shrink)
This book expounds the transcendental realist theory of science and critical naturalist social philosophy that have been developed by Bhaskar and are used by many contemporary social scientists. It defends Bhaskar's view that the possibility and necessity of experiment show that reality is structured and stratified, his use of this idea to develop a non-reductive explanatory account of human sciences, and his notion that to explain social structures can sometimes be to criticize them. After a discussion of the uses of (...) critical realism in controversial areas of social science, Bhaskar's optimism about the prospects of human sciences is criticized. (shrink)
Early twentieth-century philosophers of perception presented their naïve realist views of perceptual experience in anti-Kantian terms. For they took naïve realism about perceptual experience to be incompatible with Kant’s claims about the way the understanding is necessarily involved in perceptual consciousness. This essay seeks to situate a naïve realist account of visual experience within a recognisably Kantian framework by arguing that a naïve realist account of visual experience is compatible with the claim that the understanding is necessarily involved in (...) the perceptual experience of those rational beings with discursive intellects. The resultant view is middle way between recent conceptualist and non-conceptualist interpretations of Kant, holding that the understanding is necessarily involved in the kind of perceptual consciousness that we, as rational beings, enjoy whilst allowing that the relations of apprehension which constitute perceptual consciousness are independent of acts of the understanding. (shrink)
Structural realism is considered by many realists and antirealists alike as the most defensible form of scientific realism. There are now many forms of structural realism and an extensive literature about them. There are interesting connections with debates in metaphysics, philosophy of physics and philosophy of mathematics. This entry is intended to be a comprehensive survey of the field.
This paper outlines an account of political realism as a form of ideology critique. Our focus is a defence of the normative edge of this critical-theoretic project against the common charge that there is a problematic trade-off between a theory’s groundedness in facts about the political status quo and its ability to consistently envisage radical departures from the status quo. To overcome that problem we combine insights from three distant corners of the philosophical landscape: theories of legitimacy by Bernard (...) Williams and other realists, Frankfurt School-inspired Critical Theory, and recent analytic epistemological and metaphysical theories of cognitive bias, ideology, and social construction. The upshot is a novel account of realism as empirically-informed diagnosis- critique of social and political phenomena. This view rejects a sharp divide between descriptive and normative theory, and so is an alternative to the anti- empiricism of some approaches to Critical Theory as well as to the complacency towards existing power structures found within liberal realism, let alone mainstream normative political philosophy, liberal or otherwise. (shrink)
Scientific realism is the position that the aim of science is to advance on truth and increase knowledge about observable and unobservable aspects of the mind-independent world which we inhabit. This book articulates and defends that position. In presenting a clear formulation and addressing the major arguments for scientific realism Sankey appeals to philosophers beyond the community of, typically Anglo-American, analytic philosophers of science to appreciate and understand the doctrine. The book emphasizes the epistemological aspects of scientific (...) class='Hi'>realism and contains an original solution to the problem of induction that rests on an appeal to the principle of uniformity of nature. (shrink)
Over the past thirty years Paul Feyerabend has developed an extremely distinctive and influentical approach to problems in the philosophy of science. The most important and seminal of his published essays are collected here in two volumes, with new introductions to provide an overview and historical perspective on the discussions of each part. Volume 1 presents papers on the interpretation of scientific theories, together with papers applying the views developed to particular problems in philosophy and physics. The essays in volume (...) 2 examine the origin and history of an abstract rationalism, as well as its consequences for the philosophy of science and methods of scientific research. Professor Feyerabend argues with great force and imagination for a comprehensive and opportunistic pluralism. In doing so he draws on extensive knowledge of scientific history and practice, and he is alert always to the wider philosophical, practical and political implications of conflicting views. These two volumes fully display the variety of his ideas, and confirm the originality and significance of his work. (shrink)
One of the more debated topics in the recent realist literature concerns the compatibility of realism and utopianism. Perhaps the greatest challenge to utopian political thought comes from Bernard Williams' realism, which argues, among other things, that political values should be subject to what he calls the ‘realism constraint’, which rules out utopian arguments based on values which cannot be offered by the state as unrealistic and therefore inadmissible. This article challenges that conclusion in two ways. First, (...) it argues that the rationale for accepting Williams' original argument for the ‘realism constraint’ fails. Secondly, it argues that there is at least one genuinely political value of liberty available which is both compatible with realism and something that cannot be offered by the state, namely that of the political anarchist. This opens the way for far more ambitious and utopian forms of realist political thought and implies that the arguments of what we call political anarchists must be met by political argumentation, not simply ruled out by methodological stipulation. (shrink)
Is there more to the recent surge in political realism than just a debate on how best to continue doing what political theorists are already doing? I use two recent books, by Michael Freeden and Matt Sleat, as a testing ground for realism’s claims about its import on the discipline. I argue that both book take realism beyond the Methodenstreit, though each in a different direction: Freeden’s takes us in the realm of meta-metatheory, Sleat’s is a genuine (...) exercise in grounding liberal normative theory in a non-moralistic way. I conclude with wider methodological observations. I argue that unlike communitarianism, realism has the potential to open new vistas, though their novelty is to a large extent relative to the last forty years or so: realism is best thought of as a return to a more traditional way of doing political philosophy. (shrink)
Non-naturalist realists are committed to the belief, famously voiced by Parfit, that if there are no non-natural facts then nothing matters. But it is morally objectionable to conditionalise all our moral commitments on the question of whether there are non-natural facts. Non-natural facts are causally inefficacious, and so make no difference to the world of our experience. And to be a realist about such facts is to hold that they are mind-independent. It is compatible with our experiences that there are (...) no non-natural facts, or that they are very different from what we think. As Nagel says, realism makes scepticism intelligible. So the non-naturalist must hold that you might be wrong that your partner matters, even if you are correct about every natural, causal fact about your history and relationship. But to hold that conditional attitude to your partner would be a moral betrayal. So believing non-naturalist realism involves doing something immoral. (shrink)
The topic of the paper is the "realism-Instrumentalism" debate concerning the status of scientific theories. Popper's contributions to this debate are critically examined. In the first part his arguments against instrumentalism are considered; it is claimed that none strikes home against better versions of the doctrine (specifically those developed by duhem and poincare). In the second part, Various arguments against realism propounded by duhem and/or poincare (and much discussed by more recent philosophers) are evaluated. These are the arguments (...) from the use of idealisations in science, From the "underdetermination" of scientific theories, And (especially) from the existence of radical scientific revolutions. A maximally strong version of realism-After due allowance has been made to these arguments-Is stated and defended. This position is close to popper's own "conjectural realism" but involves dropping entirely the idea that science has developed "via" theories possessing increasing verisimilitude. (shrink)
A Benacerraf–Field challenge is an argument intended to show that common realist theories of a given domain are untenable: such theories make it impossible to explain how we’ve arrived at the truth in that domain, and insofar as a theory makes our reliability in a domain inexplicable, we must either reject that theory or give up the relevant beliefs. But there’s no consensus about what would count here as a satisfactory explanation of our reliability. It’s sometimes suggested that giving such (...) an explanation would involve showing that our beliefs meet some modal condition, but realists have claimed that this sort of modal interpretation of the challenge deprives it of any force: since the facts in question are metaphysically necessary and so obtain in all possible worlds, it’s trivially easy, even given realism, to show that our beliefs have the relevant modal features. Here I show that this claim is mistaken—what motivates a modal interpretation of the challenge in the first place also motivates an understanding of the relevant features in terms of epistemic possibilities rather than metaphysical possibilities, and there are indeed epistemically possible worlds where the facts in question don’t obtain. (shrink)
This article argues that ordinary virtue trait attributions presuppose the existence of realistic traits that fall short of, for example, Aristotelian ideals and that debate about the existence of virtue traits should be reoriented in the light of this fact. After clarifying and motivating that basic thesis, we discuss what the existing psychological research shows about the existence of realistic traits and how future psychological research could be designed to show more. Our first conclusion is that current psychological research (weakly) (...) supports virtue trait optimism not skepticism. Our second conclusion is that psychologists will need to adopt new models and conduct new studies before they can convincingly answer questions about the existence, development and normative significance of virtue traits. In short, we argue that there is no mature science of virtue today but that we can and should develop one. We end by presenting our STRIVE-4 Model, which is designed to guide future work. (shrink)
The concept of mental representation has long been considered to be central concept of philosophy of mind and cognitive science. But not everyone agrees. Neo-behaviorists aim to explain the mind without positing any representations. My aim here is not to assess the merits and demerits of neo-behaviorism, but to take their challenge seriously and ask the question: What justifies the attribution of representations to an agent? Both representationalists and neo-behaviorists tend to take it for granted that the real question about (...) representations is whether we should be realist about the theory of representationalism. This paper is an attempt to shift the emphasis from the debate concerning realism about theories to the one concerning realism about entities. My claim is that regardless of whether we are realist about representational theories of the mind, we have compelling reasons to endorse entity realism about mental representations. (shrink)
Realism and surrealism claim, respectively, that a scientific theory is successful because it is true, and because the world operates as if it is true. Lyons :891–901, 2003) criticizes realism and argues that surrealism is superior to realism. I reply that Lyons’s criticisms against realism fail. I also attempt to establish the following two claims: Realism and surrealism lead to a useful prescription and a useless prescription, respectively, on how to make an unsuccessful theory successful. (...)Realism and surrealism give the credit for the success of a theory to an appropriate factor and to an inappropriate factor, respectively. Finally, I point out that surrealism is vulnerable to my pessimistic induction :3–21, 2014a) against antirealism. (shrink)
If what we want from moral inquiry were the obtainment of objective moral truths, as moral realism claims it is, then there would be nothing morally unsatisfactory or lacking in a situation, in which we somehow had access to all moral truths, and were fundamentally finished with morality. In fact, that seems to be the realists’ conception of moral heaven. In this essay, however, I argue that some sort of moral wakefulness – that is, always paying attention to the (...) subtleties of life and people, and never taking for granted what their moral significance can possibly be – is an essential moral value, and, therefore, moral realism, which promotes a moral ideal that allows such moral lethargy and inattentiveness is morally objectionable. (shrink)
A realistic and dialectical conception of the epistemology of science is advanced according to which the acquisition of instrumental knowledge is parasitic upon the acquisition, by successive approximation, of theoretical knowledge. This conception is extended to provide an epistemological characterization of reference and of natural kinds, and it is integrated into recent naturalistic treatments of knowledge. Implications for several current issues in the philosophy of science are explored.
In recent decades, a ‘realist’ alternative to ideal theories of politics has slowly taken shape. Bringing together philosophers, political theorists, and political scientists, this countermovement seeks to reframe inquiry into politics and political norms. Among the hallmarks of this endeavor are a moral psychology that includes the passions and emotions; a robust conception of political possibility and rejection of utopian thinking; the belief that political conflict — of values as well as interests — is both fundamental and ineradicable; a focus (...) on institutions as the arenas within which conflict is mediated and contained; and a conception of politics as a sphere of activity that is distinct, autonomous, and subject to norms that cannot be derived from individual morality. For political realists, a ‘well-ordered society’ is rarely attainable; a modus vivendi without agreement on first principles is often the only practical possibility. Not only will ‘full compliance’ never be achieved, but also it is an assumption that yields misleading accounts of political norms. While realists offer a number of compelling criticisms of ideal theory, there are some lacunae in their stance. It is not yet clear whether realism constitutes a coherent affirmative alternative to idealism. Nor have realists clarified the extent of conflict that is consistent with political order as such. And because both sides accept ‘ought implies can’ as a constraint on the validity of political norms, much of the debate between realists and idealists revolves around deep empirical disagreements that are yet to be clarified. (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)
Many people accept, at least implicitly, what I call the asymmetry claim: the view that moral realism is more defensible than aesthetic realism. This article challenges the asymmetry claim. I argue that it is surprisingly hard to find points of contrast between the two domains that could justify their very different treatment with respect to realism. I consider five potentially promising ways to do this, and I argue that all of them fail. If I am right, those (...) who accept the asymmetry claim have a significant burden of proof. (shrink)
Debates about scientific realism are closely connected to almost everything else in the philosophy of science, for they concern the very nature of scientific knowledge. Scientific realism is a positive epistemic attitude toward the content of our best theories and models, recommending belief in both observable and unobservable aspects of the world described by the sciences. This epistemic attitude has important metaphysical and semantic dimensions, and these various commitments are contested by a number of rival epistemologies of science, (...) known collectively as forms of scientific antirealism. This article explains what scientific realism is, outlines its main variants, considers the most common arguments for and against the position, and contrasts it with its most important antirealist counterparts. (shrink)
Broadly speaking, the contemporary scientific realist is concerned to justify belief in what we might call theoretical truth, which includes truth based on ampliative inference and truth about unobservables. Many, if not most, contemporary realists say scientific realism should be treated as ‘an overarching scientific hypothesis’ (Putnam 1978, p. 18). In its most basic form, the realist hypothesis states that theories enjoying general predictive success are true. This hypothesis becomes a hypothesis to be tested. To justify our belief in (...) the realist hypothesis, realists commonly put forward an argument known as the ‘no-miracles argument’. With respect to the basic hypothesis this argument can be stated as follows: it would be a miracle were our theories as successful as they are, were they not true; the only possible explanation for the general predictive success of our scientific theories is that they are true. (shrink)
Logical realism is the view that there is logical structure in the world. I argue that, if logical realism is true, then we are deeply ignorant of that logical structure: either we can’t know which of our logical concepts accurately capture it, or none of our logical concepts accurately capture it at all. I don’t suggest abandoning logical realism, but instead discuss how realists should adjust their methodology in the face of this ignorance.
In On What Matters, Derek Parfit defends a new metaethical theory, which he calls non-realist cognitivism. It claims that normative judgments are beliefs; that some normative beliefs are true; that the normative concepts that are a part of the propositions that are the contents of normative beliefs are irreducible, unanalysable and of their own unique kind; and that neither the natural features of the reality nor any additional normative features of the reality make the relevant normative beliefs true. The aim (...) of this article is to argue that Parfit’s theory is problematic because its defenders have no resources to make sense of the nature of normative truth, which is an essential element of their view. I do this by showing how the traditional theories of truth are not available for the non-realist cognitivists. (shrink)