Massimi, M. (2017) What is this thing called ‘scientific knowledge?’ Kant on imaginary standpoints and the regulative role of reason, Kant Yearbook

In this essay I analyse Kant’s view on the regulative role of reason, and in particular what he describes as the ‘indispensably necessary’ role of ideas qua foci imaginari in the Appendix.
I review two influential readings of what has become known as the ‘transcendental illusion’ and I offer a novel reading that builds on some of the insights of these earlier readings.
I argue that ideas of reason act as imaginary standpoints, which are indispensably necessary for scientific knowledge by making inter-conversational agreement possible. Thus, I characterise scientific knowledge as a distinctive kind of perspectival knowledge. This novel reading can illuminate the role of reason in complementing the faculty of understanding and sheds light on the apparent dichotomy between the first and the second part of the Appendix.More to the point, this novel reading takes us right to the heart of what knowledge is, according to Kant, and how it differs from bogus knowledge and opinion.

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Massimi, M. (2017) Laws of nature, natural properties, and the robustly best system, The Monist

This paper addresses a famous objection against David Lewis’ Best System Analysis (BSA) of laws of nature. The objection—anticipated and discussed by Lewis (1994)—focuses on the standards of simplicity and strength being (in part) a matter of psychology. Lewis’ answer to the objection relies on his metaphysics of natural properties and its ability to single out the robustly best system, a system that is expected to come out far ahead of its rivals under any standard of simplicity and strength. The main task of this paper is to argue that Lewis’ reply to the objection in terms of nature being kind to us does not succeed, if nature’s kindness is understood in terms of the naturalness of the properties composing the Humean mosaic. For epistemic access to natural properties is downstream to any previous identification of the best system. A possible Lewisian rejoinder in terms of cross-world Humean mosaic of natural properties is considered and rebutted. The paper concludes by suggesting that Lewis could instead avail himself of a better answer to the objection, if the standards of simplicity and strength were re- interpreted along perspectivalist lines.

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ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus)

McCoy, C.D. and Massimi, M. Simplified Models: a New Perspective on Models as Mediators, European Journal for the Philosophy of Science

We introduce a novel point of view on the “models as mediators” frame- work in order to emphasize certain important epistemological questions about models in science which have so far been little investigated. To illustrate how this perspective can help answer these kinds of questions, we explore the use of simplified models in high energy physics research beyond the Standard Model. We show in detail how the construction of simplified models is grounded in the need to mitigate pressing epistemic problems concerning the uncertainty inherent in the present theoretical and experimental contexts.

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C.D. McCoy The implementation, interpretation and justification of likelihoods in cosmology, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics

I discuss the formal implementation, interpretation, and justification of likelihood attributions in cosmology. I show that likelihood arguments in cosmology suffer from significant conceptual and formal problems that undermine their applicability in this context.

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Massimi, M. (2016) Four Kinds of Perspectival Truth, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. doi: 10.1111/phpr.12300

In  this  paper,  I  assess  recent  claims  in  philosophy  of  science  about  scientific perspectivism  being compatible with realism. I clarify the rationale for scientific perspectivism and the problems and challenges that perspectivism faces in delivering a form of realism. In particular, I concentrate my attention on truth, and on ways in which truth can be understood in perspectival terms. I offer a cost -benefit analysis of each of them and defend a version that in my view is most promising in living up to realist expectations.


Massimi, M. (2016) Three tales of scientific success, Philosophy of Science,  83(5), 757-767 doi: 10.1086/687861

Success-to-truth inferences have been the realist stronghold for long time. Scientific success is the parameter by which realists claim to discern approximately true theories from false ones. But scientific success needs be probed a bit deeper. In this paper, I tell three tales of scientific success, by considering in turn success from nowhere, success from here now, and success from within. I argue for a suitable version of success from within that can do justice to the historically situated nature of our scientific knowledge. The outcome is a new way of thinking about success-to-truth inferences along perspectivalist lines. [download Open Access PDF]


Massimi, M. (forthcoming) Perspectival Realism, in J. Saatsi (ed) The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism.


Massimi, M. (2016) Bringing Real Realism back home: a perspectival slant. In J. Pfeifer and M. Couch (Eds.) The Philosophy of Philip Kitcher (98-120). Oxford: OUP

In this essay, I suggest bringing real realism closer home, namely back to its Kantian roots. The very same roots that make real realism a ‘homely’ kind of realism, against any Grand Metaphysical Conclusions about the world, its causal necessities, and natural kinds. I suggest reinterpreting a key aspect of real realism—i.e., the notion of success at stake in ‘working posits’—along more ‘homely’ lines, lines that acknowledge historical continuity, conceptual nuances and our role as epistemic agents in assessing success and inferring truth. The result is a form of perspectival realism—to adopt Ron Giere’s terminology— which is, however, already at a distance from what Giere himself intends by this term. Hence, my very own (loosely Kantian-inspired) perspectivalist slant to real realism. [download Open Access PDF]



Massimi, M. (forthcoming) A Perspectivalist Better Best System Account of Lawhood. In L. Patton and W. Ott (Eds.) Laws of Nature. Oxford: OUP


Massimi, M. (forthcoming) Philosophy and the Chemical Revolution after Kant. In K. Ameriks (Ed.) The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism (2nd ed). Cambridge: CUP