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Preludes to PragmatismToward a Reconstruction of Philosophy$
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Philip Kitcher

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199899555

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199899555.001.0001

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Real Realism The Galilean Strategy

Real Realism The Galilean Strategy

(p.70) 3 Real Realism The Galilean Strategy
Preludes to Pragmatism

Kitcher Philip

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers a thoroughly pragmatic response to the four principal versions of the inaccessibility of reality. It argues that Galileo's defense of his new telescope is a model for methodology and epistemology. Starting from an everyday understanding of our abilities to know, Galileo shows how those abilities can be enhanced and extended, how we can have reason to judge that the refined abilities are reliable, and how we can thus enlarge our knowledge. Once we understand how our commonsense—pre-philosophical—judgments allow us to justify the ideas that the skeptics question, we have an adequate response: for we need not “pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts.” The Galilean strategy starts from claims about ordinary objects and shows how we can have reason to think particular devices provide reliable information about entities that were previously not detectable: because we do not doubt the former, we should not doubt the latter. More importantly, the Galilean strategy shows how pervasive aspects of our mundane experience, paradigmatically our ability to observe others interacting with and successfully hypothesizing about a world that exists independently of them, provide grounds for taking our own investigations to provide information about a world independent of ourselves.

Keywords:   pragmatism, inaccessibility of reality, Galileo, methodology, epistemology

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