A Defense of Scientific Realism

19:00 - 21:00
Einstein Forum, Am Neuen Markt 7, 14467 Potsdam
Einstein Forum
Lecturing Person
Evandro Agazzi (Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City), Chair: Shyam Wuppuluri (Einstein Forum, current Albert Einstein Fellow in Caputh)

The conceptual framework of modern science used to consist of what came to be known as classical physics, which was in agreement with common sense and was considered an adequate form of knowledge of the world. Scientific knowledge, therefore, was considered to be true knowledge, and it was never put in doubt that when we know the world, we really know reality. At the end of the nineteenth century, however, the difficulties that emerged in interpreting data from the study of the microphysical world were interpreted by many as a sign that science had neither the task nor the right to seek out true representations of reality. This resulted in a form of radical empiricism, according to which science has only practical value.

Today, on the other hand, reflecting on the fact that each scientific theory investigates only certain specific aspects of reality and has operational criteria for accessing the referents of its discourse, we can recover the conception of science as an investigation that achieves partial but authentic truths about its objects and is therefore a knowledge of reality. In fact, the possibility of working with a certain (albeit "unobservable") elementary particle attests to the fact that it is not a pure figment of our imagination, nor even a mere “mental construct.” This is the meaning of a critical recovery of scientific realism.

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