Real Realism The Galilean Strategy

Kitcher Philip

in Preludes to Pragmatism

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199899555
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980154 | DOI:
Real Realism The Galilean Strategy

Show Summary Details


This chapter offers a thoroughly pragmatic response to the four principal versions of the inaccessibility of reality. It argues that Galileo's defense of his new telescope is a model for methodology and epistemology. Starting from an everyday understanding of our abilities to know, Galileo shows how those abilities can be enhanced and extended, how we can have reason to judge that the refined abilities are reliable, and how we can thus enlarge our knowledge. Once we understand how our commonsense—pre-philosophical—judgments allow us to justify the ideas that the skeptics question, we have an adequate response: for we need not “pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts.” The Galilean strategy starts from claims about ordinary objects and shows how we can have reason to think particular devices provide reliable information about entities that were previously not detectable: because we do not doubt the former, we should not doubt the latter. More importantly, the Galilean strategy shows how pervasive aspects of our mundane experience, paradigmatically our ability to observe others interacting with and successfully hypothesizing about a world that exists independently of them, provide grounds for taking our own investigations to provide information about a world independent of ourselves.

Keywords: pragmatism; inaccessibility of reality; Galileo; methodology; epistemology

Chapter.  20457 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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.