Chapter

Realism, Science, and Society

Ilkka Niiniluoto

in Critical Scientific Realism

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780199251612
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598098 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199251614.003.0010
 Realism, Science, and Society

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Besides systematic philosophical arguments, there are various extra‐scientific reasons that have been presented for or against realism. This discussion about the relations of knowledge and happiness (good human life) started already among the ancient philosophers (Aristotle, sceptics), and has continued ever since. Such religious, moral, and political considerations do not directly speak in favour or against the truth of scientific realism, but they raise important issues about science policy that have recently been topical in the so‐called Science Wars. Against Rorty's postmodern pragmatism and Feyerabend's epistemological anarchism, it is argued that critical scientific realism, with its commitment to the ethos of science as described by Merton's ethical norms, is in many ways a desirable philosophical outlook in a free, democratic, liberal society.

Keywords: Aristotle; democracy; epistemological anarchism; ethics of science; ethos of science; Feyerabend; freedom; happiness; liberalism; Merton; postmodernism; Rorty; scepticism; science policy; Science Wars

Chapter.  10365 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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