Pliability and resistance: Feyerabendian insights into sophisticated realism

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 4 (2):197-213 (2014)
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In this paper we focus on two claims, put forward by Feyerabend in his later writings , which constitute the metaphysical core of his view of scientific inquiry. The first, that we call the pliability thesis, is the claim that the world can be described by indefinitely many conceptual systems, none of them enjoying a privileged status. The second, that we call the resistance thesis, is the claim that the pliability of the world is limited, i.e., not all the different conceptual systems that can be used to describe the world will be equally successful: the world offers resistance to some attempts to describe it. We show that, in spite of the later Feyerabend’s notorious antirealist leanings, the pliability thesis is fully compatible with a robustly realist view of science, and we suggest that, surprisingly, Feyerabend’s insights concerning the limited pliability of the world turn out to be those of a potential ally of sophisticated versions of scientific realism



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Luca Tambolo
Università degli Studi di Trieste (PhD)

Citations of this work

On the very idea of pursuitworthiness.Jamie Shaw - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 91 (C):103-112.
Introduction: Reappraising Paul Feyerabend.Matthew J. Brown & Ian James Kidd - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 57:1-8.
Paul Feyerabend.John Preston - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Reason, truth, and history.Hilary Putnam - 1981 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Nature's capacities and their measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Against method.Paul Feyerabend - 1988 - London: New Left Books.

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