(2016) Axiomathes 26 (4).

Scientific realism within perspectivism and perspectivism within scientific realism

Evandro Agazzi

pp. 349-365

Perspectivism is often understood as a conception according to which subjective conditions inevitably affect our knowledge and, therefore, we are never confronted with reality and facts but only with interpretations. Hence, subjectivism and anti-realism are usually associated with perspectivism. The thesis of this paper is that, especially in the case of the sciences, perspectivism can be better understood as an appreciation of the cognitive attitude that consists in considering reality only from a certain "point of view', in a way that can avoid subjectivism. Whereas the way of conceiving a notion is strictly subjective, the way of using it is open to intersubjective agreement, based on the practice of operations whose nature is neither mental nor linguistic. Therefore, intersubjectivity (that is a "weak' sense of objectivity) is possible within perspectivism. Perspectivism can also help understand the notion of "scientific objects' in a referential sense: they are those "things' that become "objects' of a certain science by being investigated from the "point of view' of that science. They are "clipped out' of things (and constitute the "domain of objects' or the "regional ontology' of that particular science) by means of standardized operations which turn out to be the same as those granting intersubjectivity. Therefore this "strong' sense of objectivity, which is clearly realist, coincides with the "weak' one. The notion of truth appears fully legitimate in the case of the sciences, being clearly defined for the regional ontology of each one of them and, since this truth can be extended in an analogical sense to the theories elaborated in each science, it follows that are real also the unobservable entities postulated by those theories.

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Agazzi, E. (2016). Scientific realism within perspectivism and perspectivism within scientific realism. Axiomathes 26 (4), pp. 349-365.

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