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The Seas of Language$
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Michael Dummett

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198236214

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198236212.001.0001

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Common Sense and Physics

Common Sense and Physics

Chapter:
(p.376) 16 Common Sense and Physics
Source:
The Seas of Language
Author(s):

Michael Dummett (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198236212.003.0016

The distinction between `how things are in themselves’ and `how they appear to us’ bifurcates into two different distinctions: that between what is true of the world and what only appears to be, but is not in fact true of it; and that between what may be called an absolute and what may be called a relative form of description. An absolute description characterizes things independently of the situation of human beings, located on the surface of a certain planet at a particular stage in its history, and having a particular range of sensory faculties. One of the things that a scientific theory aims to do is to attain an accurate absolute description. However, such a description need not invalidate the form of description in relative terms that we employ in everyday life. Thus, there is no ground for an instrumentalist view of science, according to which science is useful as a means of encapsulating patterns and regularities detectable among the genuine facts supplied by common sense.

Keywords:   Ayer common sense, instrumentalism, perception, realism, thing in itself

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