Realism, perspectivism, and disagreement in science

This paper attends to two main tasks. First, I introduce the notion of perspectival disagreement in science. Second, I relate perspectival disagreement in science to the broader issue of realism about science: how to maintain realist ontological commitments in the face of perspectival disagreement among scientists? I argue that often enough perspectival disagreement is not at the level of the scientific knowledge claims but rather of the methodological justificatory principles. I introduce and clarify the notion of ‘agreeing-whilst-perspectivally-disagreeing’ with an episode from the history of modern physics: namely, how we came to agree about the electric charge as a minimal natural unit despite different scientific perspectives and associated data-to- phenomena inferences available for it in the period 1897-1906.

Download Open Access PDF

Link to Edinburgh Research Explorer [research repository]: Massimi, M. (2019) Realism, perspectivism, and disagreement in science, Synthese ( 10.1007/s11229-019-02500-6 )