Common Sense and Physics

Michael Dummett

in The Seas of Language

Published in print February 1996 | ISBN: 9780198236214
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597350 | DOI:
Common Sense and Physics

Show Summary Details


The distinction between `how things are in themselves’ and `how they appear to us’ bifurcates into two different distinctions: that between what is true of the world and what only appears to be, but is not in fact true of it; and that between what may be called an absolute and what may be called a relative form of description. An absolute description characterizes things independently of the situation of human beings, located on the surface of a certain planet at a particular stage in its history, and having a particular range of sensory faculties. One of the things that a scientific theory aims to do is to attain an accurate absolute description. However, such a description need not invalidate the form of description in relative terms that we employ in everyday life. Thus, there is no ground for an instrumentalist view of science, according to which science is useful as a means of encapsulating patterns and regularities detectable among the genuine facts supplied by common sense.

Keywords: Ayer common sense; instrumentalism; perception; realism; thing in itself

Chapter.  18630 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.