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Metaphor and Metaphysical Realism

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This article discusses a number of metaphors about the nature of science, in connection with three types of metaphysical realism: minimal, moderate and essentialistic realism. From the beginning, Kuipers accepts the first and rejects the third type of realism, but it is only later on that he endorses the second type. It is argued that this makes his remarks on essentialistic realism somewhat misleading; and his moderate realism is compared with some realist positions taken by other philosophers. It is further argued that the metaphors of the mirror, the net and the map correspond to essentialistic, minimal and moderate realism, respectively. This explains why the map metaphor is by far the most suitable one in the context of Kuipers' theory of science. This does not imply, however, that it is the (only) true one and that the others are false.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2005


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