File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1999/bhaskar.9911, message 10

Date: Tue, 9 Nov 1999 12:02:45 -0000
Subject: Re: BHA: Transcendental argument

Thanks all for the comments.

A few points:

i) Since my query I have come across an article by Alan Chalmers 
"Is Bhaskar's Realism Realistic?" that inte alia make just the same 
argument as I did. I only have a photocopy and it doesn't have the 
reference on it, but it could be from Radical Philosophy. Would 
anyone have the details?

For me Colin sums it up:
And it is from the necessity of experiments AND
> the success of the knowledge produced in them that one can deduce the
> existence of a non-empirical reality of a certain form.

ie we need to make experimental activity intelligible, AND it must 
also be successful.

If it were just intelligibility, then as Colin says, we could explain it in 
terms of scientists belief (implicitly or explicitly) in external reality. 
Only if we also assume practical success as well does it become a 
strong enough an argument for ontology.

However, "proving" success is another matter.

I like the way Lawson puts it in his "Economics and Reality" 
(around p. 60). CR is at least consistent in its fallibilism. It accepts 
our current knowledge is always fallible, and this includes CR itself. 
It is the best explanation around at the moment for significant 
aspects of human experience, but could always be superceded by a 
better argument in the future


> >Eg, we could similarly argue that religious activity is only intelligible 
> >if there is a god, but we presumably wouldn't want to. 
> Now your example about religion is a good one not because it provides the
> counter argument, but because it actually confirms RBs. Eg. if there was no
> belief in God then presumably their would be no religion, but there is
> religion, hence we can deduce the reality of the belief in God. Religion is
> only intelligible if there is a belief in God. But note, the existence of
> God is not a necessary condition, only the belief in God. 
> Now, in terms of CR, this is a strong point but has not yet made the case
> for the deduction that there must be a non-empirical reality; for that you
> need to add the transfactual nature of the objects discovered. All we are
> entitled to deduce so far is that scientists believe there is a
> non-empirical reality that they are attempting to make sense of in their
> activities. It is a strong point, however, because we can at least say that
> the implicit philosophy adopted by practicing scientists is depth realist.
> >
> >So, does the argument really rest on the _success_ of scientific 
> >activity? Ie it is not just that it becomes intelligible, but the actual 
> >success of experiments demonstrates an intransitive domain.
> No, it is not the success of the experiments, but that the successes gained
> through experiments can be applied and utilised beyond the experimental
> setting. I.e. that tehse things discovered seem not only to exist in the
> laboratory.
> >
> >This seems to me to open up a whole raft of problems and 
> >essentially put us back into traditional philosophy of science 
> >debates. 
> Well yes, comfortable terrain for me. I'm not sure what is wrong with being
> back here, I've never considered RB has solved all of the problems (despite
> his claims). For me, he simply provides the best account available. This
> doesn't mean I'm happy.
> >What is it that warrents the success of otherwise of experiments? 
> >What if an experiment fails? 
> Many do, and we can ask why. Does the thing exist? Was the experiment set
> up properly (how would Kant explain a failure btw Ruth?)
> >Does it not bring back induction thru' the back door - ie the 
> >"success" of many particular experiments leads to the general 
> >proposition that science as a whole is successful?
> See above, it is not the success of the experiments as such but that the
> knowledge gained through them is effective beyond them. Hence the logic of
> the arguement is twofold: First, why do scientists do experiments (you
> could even put this simpler and say "attempt to go beyond the
> appearances")?; second, the things that they say they discover seem to
> exist beyond the context of discovery.
> As for Ruth and Kant. Well since Kant basically accepted Hume's ontology
> for his phenomenal world and put Reason and morality in that other never to
> be accessed world, then when we are dealing with Hume we are dealing with
> Kant. It is for this reason that Hegel considered Kant's solution to be an
> act of cowardice.
> Also, crucial in understanding RB's transcendental arguments is what he
> says in PON:
> "Now misunderstandings about the intentions of transcendental arguments
> often stem from the failure to appreciate the contexts in which they are
> developed - against already existing philosophical theories."
> And as he says 
> "the transcendental consideration is not deployed in a philosophical
> vacuum: it is designed to situate, or replace, and existing theory; and may
> of course come, in time to suffer a similar fate." (PON 7)
> Back to lurking.
> Cheers,
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Dr. Colin Wight
> Department of International Politics
> University of Wales
> Aberystwyth
> telephone: +44 (0)1970-621769
> fax      : +44 (0)1970-622709
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
>      --- from list ---

Dr. John Mingers, Professor of OR and Systems
Warwick Business School, Warwick University, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK
phone: +1203 522475   fax: +1203 524539

     --- from list ---


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