Perspectival realism and norms of scientific representation

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (2):1-17 (2020)
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Perspectival realism combines two apparently contradictory aspects: the epistemic relativity of perspectives and the mind-independence of realism. This paper examines the prospects for a coherent perspectival realism, taking the literature on scientific representation as a starting point. It is argued that representation involves two types of norms, referred to as norms of relevance and norms of accuracy. Norms of relevance fix the domain of application of a theory and the way it categorises the world, and norms of accuracy give the conditions for the theory to be true. Perspectival realism could be made coherent by taking a realist stance towards one type of norm, and a perspectival stance towards the other, by assuming they are relative to a community. This provides two versions of perspectival realism, called relevance perspectivism and accuracy perspectivism. How each option fares with respect to the challenge of incompatible models is examined. Finally, the prospects of full perspectivism are evaluated.

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Quentin Ruyant
Complutense University of Madrid