Schema on debates about scientific realism

11 Sept. 1992

 

PROPOSITIONS

RESPONSES

TOPICS         1.  Ontological 2.  Social Epistemological 1 to 2

 

2 to 1

 

Starting

point

 

1.0     There exists reality 2.0     There exist social processes of exploring “reality” = that which has been resisting all efforts at modification. R2.0  See 1.4

 

R1.0   We have no need to deny this, but it doesn’t come into play in exploring 2.2; see 2.4.

Evidence/

Support

for this

 

1.1     The success of science based on this assumption and technology based on this science. 2.1          Observation of actual scientific practice

 

  R1.1   A science’s predictiveness or a technology’s effectiveness is contingent on more resources than reality; see 2.2.

To be

established

 

1.2      Reliable methods for discovering reality (or closer approximations to it.) 2.2     What’s rigid, what’s malleable in the process of construction of “reality” (=harnessing of cross-linked, heterogeneous resources). R2.2   See 1.45.  Also do they have anything to say about better method?

 

R1.2   Focusing on this gets in the way of representing well the practices of science (i.e., it’s “method talk”).

Aim:

Representation

or

Intevention?

 

1.3     a) Truthful representation; b) In more recent accounts: theory that underwrites reliable experimental manipulations.

 

2.3     a) As an academic epistemological venture: better representation of the process of science; b) but, as a side product: heterogeneous recon-structions indicate multiple sites of potential intervention; c)  In a future, fully developed social epistemology: simultan-eously representation and intervention. R2.3   Are they sure this style of representation is a better basis for intervention?

 

R1.3   Reliable manipulations remind us of the active construction of what counts as knowledge, i.e. 2.0.  Why not start with 2.0?
  1.35  Some foundation is needed to justify interventions in the world. 2.35  Some standpoint is unavoidable for intervening in the world. R2.35  Adopting a standpoint sounds like an invitation to be dogmatic. R1.35  Displacing their stand-point away from themselves onto some form of “reality” is a particular form of 2.0 & not one we support; see 2.3.

Views on the

other side

 

1.4     Given that there exists reality (1.0), how can they believe that anything could be true (relativism)?  or 2.4     Why do they invoke reality when they have only observed “reality?”

Answers:  a) To maintain their position as special commentators on a privileged enterprise;  or  b) To cut through social construction and appear to have a less contingent standpoint.  (Both a & b are social constructions.)

R2.4   See 1.35

 

R1.4   We’re not relativists sensu “anything goes”; see 2.2.

 

  1.44  How can they believe that nature doesn’t play a special determining role in what counts as knowledge & what’s effective in technologies?  or     R1.44  How methodologically can they separate effects?  (Recall our starting point 2.0 and the cross-linking of resources in 2.2.)

 

  1.47  a) How does society get into scientific knowledge?  or

b)  How does society have a systematic effect on science?

    R1.47 a)  Society is never out of science – problems, categories, standards of evidence etc. are not given by nature.

b)  There is lots of particularity & contingency in practice.

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