File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1999/bhaskar.9911, message 15

Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 09:58:47 -0000
Subject: Re: BHA: Transcendental argument

> >
> >However, "proving" success is another matter.
> I'm always a little bemused by how this position takes a hold (and I am not
> accusing you here John) of what I normally consider to be sane minds. Even
> most radical pomos I know who deny any extralinguistic reality seem to have
> little difficulty in composing their denials of it on machines that depend
> upon the success of science beyond the laboratory (and with it the
> transfactual nature of the objects discovered) for their functioning. They
> likewise seem to have little difficulty in boarding planes which likewise
> depend upon it. I.e. the success of science is all too evident (something I
> regret at times). And would planes ever have been built if the Romantics
> (for which read the postmoderns) had had their way? In fact, isn't it the
> case the "proving the non-success" of science is the difficult issue. Now I
> know of course the all too obvious ripostes to this whether in their its
> "only because we all believe it mode", or Descartes "evil demon" mode etc.,
> ect., etc. But really, what is never fleshed out in the former is just who
> "we" are, and the latter is simply uninteresting, and anyway is or is not
> the demon real?

I do accept it myself, but am aware of arguments against and have 
to be able to rebut them.

I think its relatively easy with the natural science arguments you 
give (although even here the success of a piece of technology or a 
prediction does not imply that we have necessarily got the 
underlying theory right. Many predictions and machines would work 
under Newtonian or even pre-heliocentric theories)

But social science is very different. Even a relatively "hard" social 
science such as economics would find it difficult to demonstrate its 
frequent success (there are some good debates in "Critical Realism 
in Economics" by Fleetwood, Routledge, 1999), let alone social 
theory where there is little agreement even over what might 
constitute "society" - compare Habermas, Luhmann, Giddens who 
are all relatively structural sociologists at least.

On this point, I note that RB's approach is to ground CR in the 
natural science domain (with his transcendental arguments) and 
then argue that social science is basically the same but a bit 
different. A much stronger approach would be to equally ground CR 
in social science - ie to apply the same transcendental arguemnt to 
social science directly. I don't beleive this is possible, but I would 
like to see someone try.
> The chalmers piece was \i think RP, but I would have to look that up. My
> understanding is that Chalmers is quite sympathetic to CR.

Yes, he is - the article is trying to develop what he sees as 
weaknesses in CR.



> Thanks,
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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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