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More models, more problems?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Vashka dos Remedios.

Scientific Perspectivism is a position in the philosophy of science recently developed by Ronald Giere. Its central thesis is that the strongest claim one can legitimately make on the basis of a successful scientific model concerns how the world looks from the theoretical perspective of that model.

This is meant to provide a middle position between the excesses of constructivism and relativism, on the one hand, and the kind of realism which wants to draw strong metaphysical conclusions from science, on the other. He is thus another attempt in the long line of philosophers trying to banish metaphysics from science. He does this by distinguishing between specific claims about the similarity of models to part of the world, which are truth-evaluate but always perspective-relative, and merely pragmatic commitments to using particular perspectives.

In this essay I argue that Giere’s account fails to fulfil this ambition of keeping metaphysics out of science. I argue that the pragmatist motivation he gives for his view undermines the central distinction between representational models and merely pragmatic commitments to perspectives.

This talk is part of the HPS Philosophy Workshop series.

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