AMETAPHYSICS FOR SCIENTIFIC REALISM - download pdf or read online


ISBN-10: 0511367686

ISBN-13: 9780511367687

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If so, this would constitute the sort of pragmatic incoherence the empiricist requires in order to demonstrate that metaphysics is irrational. There are suggestions to this effect The fall of the critique of metaphysics 23 throughout van Fraassen’s critique. Let me summarize the relevant principles as follows: P1 No form of inquiry into the nature of the world should be immune to the possibility of error, or failure. P2 Correct logical or grammatical form should not be considered sufficient to render claims about the world substantive.

Theories can be interpreted as making many claims about the nature of reality, but at best one has good grounds, or epistemic warrant, for believing some of these claims. Only some aspects of theories are likely to be retained as the sciences march on. I will refer to any approach that takes this advice seriously as a form of selective scepticism. The primary motivation for this modification to realism simpliciter is to pick out, from among the numerous claims embedded in theories, the ones that are most epistemically secure and thus likely to survive over time.

When metaphysical claims are found to be problematic, one tries something else. Clearly, then, particular theories can lose out, and it is not a pointless game after all. It is in the nature of the stances that generate these candidates for knowledge, however, to go on. Thus it seems that P1 is no threat to the metaphysical stance. Consider P2. Van Fraassen challenges metaphysicians to show that their claims are substantive. They should amount to more, he says, than ‘coherent nonsense’. Merely correct logical or grammatical form is insufficient to demonstrate that metaphysical claims exemplify reasonable 24 Realism and antirealism; metaphysics and empiricism attempts to say something substantive about the world.

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