- Series: Classical Texts in Critical Realism (Routledge Critical Realism)
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (August 16, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415454948
- ISBN-13: 978-0415454940
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,498,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Realist Theory of Science (Classical Texts in Critical Realism (Routledge Critical Realism)) 1st Edition
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'A genuinely original argument in the philosophy of science is a rare thing indeed. Bhaskar has produced a new... strong, elaborate and well-integrated, elegant and powerful argument.' - Rom Harre, Mind 1977
'A remarkably interesting and stimulating book in an area of philosophy in which such books have become all too rare.' - S. Korner, Times Literary Supplement 1975
About the Author
Roy Bhaskar is the originator of the philosophy of critical realism, and the author of many acclaimed and influential works including A Realist Theory of Science, The Possibility of Naturalism, Scientific Realism and Human Emancipation, Reclaiming Reality and Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom. He is an editor of the recently published Critical Realism: Essential Readings and is currently chair of the Centre for Critical Realism.
Top customer reviews
Bhaskar argues that science must necessarily presuppose a philosophical conception of reality. Thus, the question is not whether a scientist should or should not first think philosophy, but whether the philosophy being secreted is done so tacitly or self-consciously, or whether the philosophy behind science is poor or strong.
Bhaskar defends the idea of "depth realism." Namely, for science to be possible, reality must have layers, otherwise all science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided. This means there is "vertical dimension" to being (reality). Science is especially concerned with discovery and understanding the vertical dimension of reality and being (at the same time, actual scientific activity is primarily conducted in the "horizontal dimension" of being (reality), i.e. in and out of open systems of reality and closed system of scientific laboratory environments).
What Bhaskar ultimately accomplishes in "The Realist Theory of Science" is a unique and highly innovative conception of (natural) "powers" of things, a new and unique conception of "causality" and a highly inventive defense and development of a theory of "emergence" to philosophically explain _and_ philosophically defend science.
Bhaskar develops a new definition of "natural law." Whereas the empiricist and positivist argue that constant conjunction of events, i.e. regular and predictable patterns of events as for example produced in a scientific laboratory condition, are _both_ necessary and sufficient for identifying a natural law; while the Kantian idealists (dominate today in science) argue constant conjunction of events are necessary, but insufficient for identifying a natural law; the depth realism argued for by Bhaskar declares constant conjunctions of events are neither sufficient or even necessary for identifying natural laws. Instead philosophical argumentation, reasoning and rationality can help identify a natural law.
In this way, Bhaskar argues that it is not just the activity of science that establishes the identification of natural laws and knowledge of the universe, but the cooperation between philosophy and science together that produces understanding and knowledge about the universe.
Bhaskar's "depth realism" establishes two key philosophical realist principles, first, reality has a particular structure (i.e. depth) and second, much of reality is independent of human activity (i.e. realism) together this is a call for "ontological realism." Nonetheless, how humans actually gain and obtain knowledge of the world and universe is relative, and dependent on being (reality) itself. In this sense, Bhaskar defends the idea of "epistemological relativity." Because the activity of science/philosophy will necessarily produce competing theories about reality, while at the same time reality is necessarily independent of these theories, there is the necessity of, and possibility for, judging between competing theories philosophically or rationally, which is the basis of what Bhaskar calls "judgmental rationality."
Taken together, "ontological realism", "epistemological relativity", and "judgmental rationality" is the "holy trinity" of Bhaskarian philosophical/scientific realism.
This is groundbreaking philosophical work which is simultaneously liberation for those practicing science.
If you want to start with something less challenging, you might start with Collier's introduction to Bhaskar's thought.
I can bet that 99% of normal people will find this book a mental torture, very few will ever proceed beyond page 2 of this book. If you imagine a long bearded person with long hair, sitting in a room full of books and muttering to himself of something totally incomprehensible while jotting something in a book, THIS is exactly the kind of book that you are going to read. In short, stay away unless if you have a commitment to enhance your knowledge in the philosophy of social science, which is not typical unless if you're enrolled in the first year PhD in Management. Good luck!