Friday, 2 November 2007
The Real Issue: On the Consequences of Real Realism
Ofer Gal, University of Sydney (HPS)
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Abstract: The realism debate seems to have resurfaced, and with it the confusion about what is exactly at stake. I will demonstrate that the two main arguments in the service of the debate’s traditional protagonists—Inference to the Best Explanation for realism and Pessimistic Meta-Induction for anti realism—do not represent competing epistemological stands but metaphysical mirror images. In contrast, I will point at moments in the history of science where the distinction between realist and anti-realist approaches was clear, and the choice between them crucial. I will then present the one coherent realist position currently available—constructivism—and demonstrate that it leads to a most intriguing aporia.