Re: [OPE-L] today's critical scientific realism

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Fri Feb 18 2005 - 23:13:16 EST

Hi Jerry,

Bhaskar certainly made a contribution to the spread of scientific realism,
but what scientific realism has become in the last half century outruns by a
very long shot the current of thought triggered by his work.  So my
reference to 'critical scientific realism' : refers to this broader currrent
and relies on some pretty mainstream stuff -- Stathis Psillos, Scientific
Realism: How Science Tracks Truth, and Richard Boyd who has probably done
the most far reaching work on the question of real definition, in
particular.  It is important to have some general sense of what has happened
with the evolution of scientific realism independent of Bhaskar in the
philosophy of science over the last half century.  In fact, it is one of the
limits of Bhaskar's work that he never really engaged these currents,
although he initially had an impact on them.  Anyway, the point is that you
cannot reduce scientific realism today to Bhaskar or the critical realism
list (which is not at all to minimize the significance of work done by
members of that list).  Richard Boyd, for example, who has influenced, e.g.
Satay Mohanty's work in postpostivist realist literary theory (see for
example Reclaiming Identity: Realist Theory and the Predicament of
Postmodernism, Moya and Hames-Garcia, ed.), , shows attention to the
underlying contributions of Marxism -- see for example "Kinds as
'Workmanship of Men':  Realism, Constructivism, and Natural Kinds, in
Rationality, Realism and Revision, edited by Julian Nida-Rumelin
(Perspectives in Analytical Philosophy, v. 23) 1997 where he asks, by way of
conclusion, whether the anti-imperialist struggle of the Vietnamese peasants
don't count as struggles in the history of science for the direct
contribution they made to the shift  provoked in the imaginative capacities
of scientists and philosophers; maybe they should be considered as
scientific workers.  Actually I think I've mentioned this before.  Bhaskar
had a way of writing this stuff that made it accessible to the left and that
was enormously important.  Much of it is not readily accessible.  But the
point is that the way Marx prefigures today's scientific realism extends
further than Bhaskar and the current defined by his work.  It is a question
of social theorists, economists, academic lawyers and others taking on board
what happened after positivism that was not post modern constructivism.


----- Original Message -----
From: <Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM>
Sent: Thursday, February 17, 2005 8:49 AM
Subject: [OPE-L] today's critical scientific realism

> > Today's critical scientific realism would present the question as an
> > effort to specify the real definition of a natural kind.  We can ask
> > what the generative structures are that characterize a thing and
> > cause its persistence as the kind of thing it is.
> Hi Howard:
> Perhaps, but some critical realists it seems don't see the merit in
> examining Marx's theories today.  Thus, see the discussion on the
> critical-realism list re Han's annotations beginning with George
> Moore's remarks on February 5
> ]
> but quickly  erupting into flames with Tahir's post on 2/7 followed
> by the thread "tahir - a jerk?".
> Does the question "why should we read Marx in 2005?" represent a
> division among critical realists (left-wing vs. not-so-left-wing?) or a
> of critical realists vs. non-critical realists on the critical-realism
> In solidarity, Jerry

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