This book offers a vigorous and constructive challenge to the various forms of anti-realist and cultural-relativist thinking. By examining a wide range of anti-realist theories, the author is able to highlight the problems, including the ethical dilemmas, to which they give rise, and in response offer a variety of arguments amounting to a strong defence of critical realism in the natural and social sciences. These arguments are drawn from a wide range of sources such as theoretical physics, philosophical semantics, deconstruction and critical theory. This book will thus be of interest to both students and scholars in the fields of critical theory, philosophy and history of science, and epistemology, demonstrating as it does the incoherence of anti-realist doctrines.
"With his characteristic energy and scruple, Christopher Norris has mounted an unusually wide-ranging, cross-disciplinary attack on a family of doctrines - all prominent forms of cultural relativism - tethered to the singular claim that truth is constructed and, therefore is whatever we make of it. Securing that lone thread, Norris weaves before our eyes a tapestry of rogue theories that include anti-realism, social constructionism, the 'strong programme', neopragmatism, relativism, scepticism, Kuhnian and Foucaudlian fashions, and more." Joseph Margolis, Temple University
"This author provides a great service to modern and postmodern philosphers of science who are held at somewhat of a distance by the writing styles of their counterparts...Norris' survey is extensive...it is wonderful at bringing out how postmodern discussions of language and ontology can be sewn into the fabric of arguments grounded in the assumptions of the Received View." J.F.Metcalfe, Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review, Vol.39, No.3
1. Metaphor, Concept, and Theory-Change: Deconstruction as Critical Ontology.
2. Deconstruction and Epistemology: Bachelard, Derrida, de Man.
3. Ontological Relativity and Meaning-Variance: A Critical-Constructive Review.
4. Deconstructing Anti-Realism: Quantum Mechanics and Interpretation-Theory.
5. Hermeneutics, Anti-Realism, and Philosophy of Science.
6. Anti-Realism and Constructive Empiricism: Is There a (Real) Difference?.
7. Ontology According to Van Frassen: Some Problems with Constructive Empiricism.
8. Stuck in the Mangle: Sociology of Science and its Discontents.
9. But Will It Fly? Aerodynamics as a Test-Case for Anti-Realism.
10. Why Strong Sociologists Abhor a Vacuum: Shapin and Schaffer on the Boyle/Hobbes Controversy.
11. Leviathan and the Turbojet: A Critique of Sociological Unreason.