29 September 2010

Quantum Theory and the Flight from Realism


Christopher Norris and Mary Midgley

Quantum Theory and the Flight from Realism, by Christopher Norris. Published by Routledge, 2000.
In his life of the 18th century writer Samuel Johnson, James Boswell relates a conversation with Johnson about the philosophy of their contemporary Bishop Berkeley. Berkeley's philosophy, as Johnson and Boswell understood it, held that all we really have of the world is our idea of it, and Boswell remarks to Johnson that this position, though false, is impossible to refute "I shall never forget," Boswell then goes on, "the alacrity with which Johnson answered. Striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, [he cried] - "I refute it thus."
In this episode of How To Think About Science, philosopher Christopher Norris, takes his stand with Dr. Johnson. He believes that the best philosophy of science is a robust realism
Christopher Norris talks to David Cayley about why he thinks realism makes for the best philosophy, and the best politics. Then later in the hour, British philosopher Mary Midgley, argues that science always sees the world through the lens of some orienting story.