A note on Critical Realism

HANS DESPAIN HANS.DESPAIN at m.cc.utah.edu
Sat Jul 15 20:11:09 MDT 1995


I think that Miles Jackson has misunderstood the intention of my last
note.  It was not to argue why someone should be committed to Critical
Realism, but what their response is to there existing a non-discursive
realm.  In essence, Bhaksar's argument on this point, for example, is
that a notion or commitment to a non-discursive or intransitive dimension
is the only *consistent* way to make sense of scientific knowledge,
experimental activity, theories and models.  The empiricist traditions,
critical rationalists, and deductivists are unable to consistently
account for all activity of science.

Bhaskar's method is transcendental and pragmatic, if this is the critique, I
have some sympathy.  However, the Critical Realist arguments are quite
powerful, and their critiques of empiricism, transcendental idealism,
and irrealism, (imo) complete.  Philosophically I would agree that
Critical Realism does not provide grounds for intransitivity, but if
science is indeed possible and being carried out, then there is good and
powerful reasons for being committed to Critical Realism.

In this sense, Critical Realism is better seen as a philosophy for
science, rather philosophy of science.  This is the limit of
transcendental reasoning, and otherwise we are committed to Humean
scepticism or a Kantian duality, both of which are less powerful.

In any event the arguments in favor of Critical Realism *have not* been
presented.  I would suggest Bhaskar's *A Realist Theory of Science* 1975,
1978.

Given patience and an interest we could try to discuss such issues.

Hans Despain
despain at econ.sbs.utah.edu
hans.despain at m.cc.utah.edu


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