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The Third LensMetaphor and the Creation of Modern Cell Biology$
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Andrew S. Reynolds

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226563121

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226563435.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 February 2020

The Instrumental Success of Scientific Metaphor: Putting the scientific realism issue into perspective

The Instrumental Success of Scientific Metaphor: Putting the scientific realism issue into perspective

Chapter:
(p.186) 6 The Instrumental Success of Scientific Metaphor: Putting the scientific realism issue into perspective
Source:
The Third Lens
Author(s):

Andrew S. Reynolds

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226563435.003.0007

This chapter considers the implications of science’s reliance on metaphor for the thesis of scientific realism. Can scientists employ metaphor and still claim to provide objective knowledge of reality? Discussions of the realism question tend to conflate the notions of a literally true account of reality and an objectively true account. The latter frequently means an account of reality in its own terms independently of how humans describe it. But using a term to give a literal description is distinct from an objectively true description in the God’s-eye-view sense. This metaphysical version of realism can be replaced with a more pragmatic version (like Giere’s ‘perspectival realism’) while maintaining a robust and more ‘realistic’ notion of objectivity. Because nature has no inherent language of its own, we need not expect science ultimately to arrive at one uniquely correct account. Metaphors are instruments scientists use to achieve different objectives in different contexts.

Keywords:   metaphor, scientific realism, instrumentalism, literal vs objective truth, perspectival realism, Bas van Fraassen, Ernan McMullan, Ron Giere, John Searle

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