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Realism in Perspective

Michela Massimi

Can science and knowledge be true when they arise from a human vantage point? Philosopher of Science Michela Massimi brings together realism and perspectivism to forge a new kind of realism on science.

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Instructor
  • massimi5hi res
    Michela Massimi

    Former Co-Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal for Philosophy of Science

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About the Course

Can science and knowledge be true when they arise from a human vantage point? Philosopher of Science Michela Massimi brings together realism and perspectivism to forge a new kind of realism about science.

Our ideas about science are shaped by two conflicting intuitions. On the one hand, science seems to reveal the truth about nature and the universe. On the other, all of our scientific knowledge must come from a specific perspective. How can we reconcile realism with perspectivism?

In this two-part course, Michela Massimi seeks to reconcile our two intuitions and forge a new kind of realism about science. She argues that her perspectival realism does what other theories fail to do: acknowledge that all science comes from a certain perspective while retaining the crucial grip on truth.

By the end of this course, you will have learned:

  • How scientific realism differs from anti-realism
  • How Hilary Putnam’s ‘No Miracles’ argument supports scientific realism
  • The difference between truth and objectivity
  • Why some philosophers argue that truth is not the aim of science
  • How five different forms of relativism differ
  • How Thomas Kuhn’s idea of paradigm shifts in science threatens realism
  • How perspectival realism reconciles our two conflicting intuitions

 

As part of the course there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate your learning, suggested further readings to stimulate a deeper exploration of the topic, discussion boards to have your say and an end-of-course assessment set by Professor Massimi.

Requirements

IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.

About the Instructor

  • Michela Massimi

    Former Co-Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal for Philosophy of Science, and Vice President of the European Philosophy of Science Association. Massimi is the Principal Investigator of a 5-year project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) entitled Perspectival Realism. Science, Knowledge, and Truth from a Human Vantage Point

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: Beyond Realism and Relativism
    Must we abandon our models when they conflict?
  • Part Two: Perspectival Realism
    Can perspectivism be made compatible with realism?

Suggested Further Readings

Massimi, Michela. 'Four Kinds of Perspectival Truth', in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

Massimi, Michela. 'Scientific Perspectivism and its Foes', in Philosophica 84

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