Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
John G. Gunnell
There are, as the philosopher Hilary Putnam has suggested, many “faces” of realism, but most philosophers who subscribe to the label of scientific realism argue that scientific theories, including statements about unobservable entities, are basic reality claims and are true or false by virtue of the extent to which they correspond to a mind-independent world, which, they maintain, is more than a regulative ideal. The manner in which realism, in recent years, has found its way into the discourse of political theory and political science is exemplary of a long history of the involvement of these fields with the philosophy of science. This entry examines the impact of logical positivism and logical empiricism on the philosophy of science, the subsequent evolution of scientific realism, and the application of positivist principles to the social sciences. Whether social scientists have wished to embrace or distance themselves from the methods of natural science, ...