Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Realism, philosophy: realism is a collective term for theories which, in principle, believe that it is possible for us to acquire knowledge about objects of the external world that is independent from us as perceptual subjects. A strong realism typically represents the thesis that it would make sense to even create hypotheses about basically unknowable objects. See also metaphysical realism, internal realism, universal realism, constructivism.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

John Bigelow on Realism - Dictionary of Arguments

Realism/Bigelow/Pargetter: thesis: pro scientific realism. Logic can also be understood best in this way.
Modal Realism/Bigelow/Pargetter: pro: a scientific realist should be a modal realist. ((s) I.e. he/she should assume the existence of possible worlds).
I 38
Realism/Bigelow/Pargetter: our realism is neutral in relation to reductionism.
I 275
Metaphysical realism/Bigelow/Pargetter: pro metaphysical realism, which does not simply interpret the causal relation as a predicate, or as a set of ordered pairs, but as a universal.
I 341
Best explanation/BE/Bigelow/Pargetter: behind it are different kinds of realism.
I 342
Realism/Bigelow/Pargetter: many of his varieties are based on a best explanation. Since we are assuming there is something to explain in the explanation.
Foundation/fundamental realism/Bigelow/Pargetter: a fundamental class of entities is assumed. These do not explain anything themselves, but provide the material to be explained.
Vs: the raw material should be sensations (perception, experience).
Appearance/Bigelow/Pargetter: if we start with it, we can reach the best explanation for any kind of realism by concluding. But it is not "realism about phenomena". Realism always accepts objects.
BigelowVsTradition: erroneously assumes that we ourselves are in some way outside and not in the midst of reality.
Realism/Explanation/Bigelow/Bigelow/Pargetter: not everything we assume to be real does contribute to explanations at all!
((s) For example redundancies and repetitions are not unreal, tautologies are not unreal either, nor boring stuff. So we cannot assume from the outset that reality is a valid explanation. Neither would we deny the existence of boring stuff.).
Reality/Bigelow/Pargetter: it is also doubtful whether all things should explain appearances.
I 343
Definition direct realism/Bigelow/Pargetter: thesis: we perceive objects "directly". I. e. without deducing their existence from anything fundamental by inference. There is some truth in it! (pro: Armstrong 1961(1), discussion in Jackson 1977b(2)).
BigelowVsDirect realism: even if we could keep object and appearances apart through reflection, it would be questionable whether the material thing would be the better explanation!
Appearance/Bigelow/Pargetter: dealing with it is tricky. It seems as if we have to find out something about our inner states first. The normal case, however, is the extroverted perceiver. The situation of extroverted perception must also precede introverted reflection.
Best Explanation/Bigelow/Pargetter: nonetheless, if we are realists, we will understand material objects as the best explanation of our appearances (or perception).
Realism/Bigelow/Pargetter: now it shows that there is a hierarchy of two realisms
((s) a) direct, naive, b) reflected, by deduction from appearances)
and how this hierarchy is destroyed in practice: we begin with a realism and come to the conclusion of the best explanation to the second realism, and these merge into one and the same reality. The hierarchical order does not remain in things, but becomes an extrinsic characteristic of their relation to us as perceivers.
There is also a feedback: the inverse conclusion from the reflected realism on the unreflected.
I 344
Holism/Bigelow/Pargetter: that leads to some kind of epistemic holism that we accept. It does not threaten realism.
Explanation/Best Explanation/Bigelow/Pargetter: if we accept realism on the basis of conclusions drawn from the best explanation, we must ask what kind of explanation is at issue. It can be about different kinds of (Aristotelian) causes (see above). The most convincing ones are certainly those that are concerned with "efficient" causes: e.g. Cartwright, Hacking:
Realism/Cartwright/Hacking: is best supported by causal explanations.
Quine/Two Dogmas/Bigelow/Pargetter: Quine has caused many philosophers not only to sit in the armchair, but also to question the experiments that scientists have carried out in real. We reject that.
Realism/Bigelow/Pargetter: but we also reject the other extreme, that realism would have to arise solely from causal explanations.
I 345
There may also be formal reasons (formal causes/Aristotle) for realism.
Modality/Bigelow/Pargetter: it is also a legitimate question as to what constitutes modalities in science. Modal realism is the best explanation here for such matters.
Metaphysics/Platonism/Universals/Bigelow/Pargetter: can be supported by the Best Explanation: by inferences on the best explanation we show that we need modalities and universals in the sciences.
Modality/Bigelow/Pargetter: their primary source is mathematics.
Mathematics/Bigelow/Pargetter: our metaphysics allows a realistic understanding of mathematics (BigelowVsField).

1. Armstrong, D. M. (1961). Perception and the physical world. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
2. Jackson, F. (1977b) Perception. A representative theory. Cambridge University Press.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Big I
J. Bigelow, R. Pargetter
Science and Necessity Cambridge 1990

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