This paper aims at an account of the role of perspectives in scientific research practices, focusing on their epistemological role in constructing representations (such as scientific models) that can be successfully used in epistemic task. In accounting for scientific representation, the notion of perspectives functions as a metaphor (e.g., Massimi & McCoy, eds., 2020). I propose a distinction between two versions of this metaphor. The first draws on the meaning of perspectives in graphic art and complies with forms of scientific realism. The second interprets perspectivism as a Kantian-Kuhnian take on empiricism, emphasizing the non-eliminable role of the perspective as part of the epistemic actor’s knowledge of what is represented. This implies a form of Van Fraassian anti-realism. To the concern that the latter gives leeway to harmful forms of subjectivism and relativism, I reply that the perspectives themselves can and must be made explicit.
26 Sep 2019
The Leiden Theoretical Philosophy Colloquium Series 2019