Show Summary Details

p. 826. Lessons and meaningslocked

  • John Polkinghorne

Abstract

‘Lessons and meanings’ discusses the fundamental philosophical debate between positivism, where science's role is seen as the reconciliation of observational data, and realism, where science's role is seen to be to discover what the physical world is really like. Pragmatism offers a halfway house — the philosophical position that acknowledges the technological fact that physics enables us to get things done, but that does not go as far as a realist position in thinking that we know what the world is actually like. Reality; reasonableness; the metaphysical criteria of scope, economy, and elegance; holism; and the role of the observer are all discussed. Finally, there is a warning against quantum hype.

Access to the complete content on Very Short Introductions online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.