Realism (philosophy)

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The term realism encompasses a multitude of philosophical positions according to which phenomena that are independent of human consciousness exist, that affect us and that we can term linguistically. Realistic theses regarding very different phenomena are discussed, so that one speaks more precisely of a realism regarding a certain problem area.

If the existence of a thought- independent reality is assumed, one speaks of metaphysical or ontological realism. More precisely, one speaks here again of realism with regard to different ontological objects (for example universal realism or realism with regard to natural species).

Of epistemological realism is called reversed when the world is "really visible", what could be more precise so as that our opinions may have principally to do with observation independently existing objects with objects of an in relevant it respects identical for all observers world - that this is really the case in the case of knowledge .

In the philosophy of language one speaks of a semantic realism when the description of the outside world is made with sentences (statements, thoughts) that are a clear interpretation, i.e. can be judged as true or false. Insofar as it is assumed in epistemology that knowledge can only be grasped linguistically, epistemological and semantic realism coincide.

One speaks of scientific realism with regard to the thesis that the individual sciences ultimately lead to knowledge of objects that exist independently of certain theories or conventions and are structured as we can know. In the broadest sense, this presupposes an “outside world independent of observation”.

“Moral realism” describes a basic position in metaethics , according to which there are principally objective facts regarding moral questions. Analogous to this and positions of scientific realism, one speaks, for example, of theological realism with regard to religious truths.

The importance of the realism question

In abstract terms, the question of realism is about whether being determines human consciousness or whether consciousness determines being (primacy of the object or the subject). In the everyday world it is completely clear to humans that there are tables, stones and other people. Most people are also aware that the way things are perceived through them are influenced by the senses and processing in the brain. Only through philosophical reflection does reality become questionable. The question of realism was discussed early in Greek philosophy. The “homo-mensura sentence” of Protagoras is often quoted on this: “Man is the measure of all things, of beings as they are, of non-existents as they are not.” The thesis of George Berkeley is just as famous : “Esse est percipi” (Being is being perceived). In both quotes there is the consideration of whether reality even exists independently of human thought. There are three aspects that are examined in the realism debate: the existence of things, their independence from human consciousness, and the question of a causal or conceptual connection between reality and what is perceived.

The practical meaning of this question lies in the fact that without the assumption of a reality it is not possible to make unequivocally true statements about things or facts. For the realist, reality serves as a necessary measure of whether statements are true or false. If one denies the recognizability of reality at all, the only alternative world view that remains is skepticism with the consequence of relativism . Reality as a “truth maker” is not available to the skeptic or relativist. The clarification of the question of realism is therefore a prerequisite for determining a possible concept of truth.

In order to make statements about reality, one must first be able to recognize it. The question of realism in philosophy is therefore particularly a topic of epistemology . But the question of realism also plays a fundamental role in the philosophy of science, in which the truthfulness of theories is important. Advances in the natural sciences in the 20th century have raised new questions in the realism debate.

The physicist Hans-Peter Dürr describes the problem of the realism question as follows:

“Under the strong influence of natural science… we have got used to equating our perception of reality with reality and even interpreting this reality in terms of a materially founded reality that can be broken down into parts. But modern physics has taught us an interesting lesson that has led to a profound correction of this notion. It has meant to us that the idea of ​​an objective reality, a materially pronounced reality, is appropriate to a certain approximation, but as an absolute principle of nature is inadmissible and wrong, and that this idea even blocks us from a deeper insight into the essence of actual reality. "

The multitude of realistic positions

Realism is the thesis that there is a reality independent of thought.
Object area
Material objects
- observable
- Unobservable
(Electrons, atoms)
- Forces (gravitation,
magnetic attraction)
- Qualities
(Curvature of spacetime)
- Mental states
Scientific theories
(Laws of nature)
Math objects
Ethical values ​​/ aesthetic norms
Kind of existence
- existence at all
- independence
- structure
- directly
- indirect (representation)
Bivalence (true or false)
Overview of the possible object area and the type of existence in philosophical realism

The discussion about realism is often burdened by the complexity of the objects and the resulting range of objects to which reality is assigned. Here, observable material objects (tables, birds, clouds) and non-observable material objects (electrons and the elements of the atomic nucleus), forces such as gravitation or magnetic attraction, qualities such as the curvature of space-time, abstract objects (melodies, associations) or mathematical objects (numbers, classes, manifolds) are distinguished and evaluated differently with regard to their reality content. In addition, there are universals such as general terms (redness), natural species (cat, forest, diamond), laws of nature, facts or mental states (thoughts, ideas, feelings). Finally, there is the question of the existence and independence of ethical values ​​and aesthetic norms. A realistic position is determined, among other things, by which of these entities are included in the object area by their representatives.

Philosophical positions can combine different realistic points of view. In some cases an ontological realism is advocated, but an epistemological realism is rejected. Some philosophers like John Searle or Michael Devitt limit realism to the realm of ontology. Often found is the position of an ontological and differentiated epistemological realism, which rejects a realism with regard to ethical values ​​or aesthetic phenomena. There has been an extensive philosophical debate about the possible justification of a realistic position since around the 1970s. Very different justifications arose, some of which were mutually criticized. The rejection of realism is called anti-realism in this debate. The anti-realists also base their assessment on very different arguments and some of them recognize at least weak realism.

Ontological realism

The existence of objects outside of human consciousness is largely undisputed. Ontological realism means that these objects and facts would also exist without humans. Man has no influence on the existence and structure of reality. Without such a view, an investigation of the essence of all beings (ontology), for example, would be pointless. A possible, but seldom represented counter-position to this would be a pure solipsism , for which reality is a pure representation of consciousness, i.e. an objective proof of an outside world does not appear possible.

There is, however, a fundamental controversy with regard to the question of whether general terms, so-called universals, have a real existence. This problem goes back to Plato and Aristotle and reached a climax in the discussion about the problem of universals in the Middle Ages . The topic can be pursued up to contemporary philosophy , in which it is particularly open whether mathematical entities such as number, relation or class can be assigned an ontological existence ( Platonism ) or whether they are purely intellectual concepts. On the other hand, the philosophy of language asks whether properties ("redness") and classes ("living beings") are ontologically independent. The concept of possible worlds is discussed under the collective term “ modal realism ” . The universal realism is also referred to as essentialism , its opposite position as nominalism. According to this, all general terms are conceptual abstractions that are formed as designations by people. In nominalism, existence is only given to individual things. The most widespread view of universals is so-called conceptualism , according to which general terms are formed in the mind but have a direct relation to the things themselves.

With regard to ontological realism, it is discussed whether one should understand things as substances or as pure qualities. In the latter case, a thing would be a combination of qualities (bundle theory). This is based, for example, on the view that everything that exists can be traced back to forms of energy. Facts are already there in the world. They can be determined spatially, temporally and qualitatively. Qualities are tied to individual cases. Relations are connections of qualities in relation to individual facts. The question of whether there is only one reality remains controversial. There are views according to which the respective reality, its being and not just its recognizability, depends on the perspective of the viewer. Such a view is called ontological relativism .

Epistemological realism

Epistemological realism presupposes ontological realism. Some of the existing objects and facts are in some way recognizable to the epistemological realist. There is a very wide range of opinions about the extent and degree of recognizability of the world. A fundamental distinction is first of all the question of whether the recognizable objects are independent of the way in which a person recognizes or whether the appearances of things in consciousness always depend on the person's ability to cognize. The discussion about realism is mostly conducted on the epistemological level, since statements about existing objects presuppose that they are also recognizable.

The classic opposite position to epistemological realism is epistemological idealism . In this mindset it is assumed that the world as it appears to man is primarily and originally determined by human thought. Idealism denies the existence of things without the action of the human understanding. Thinking of things outside of us is a "mere article of faith". Only the mind creates the objects of our knowledge from sensory data such as noises or light waves. Modern variants of idealism can be found in different approaches to constructivism . Epistemological idealism, too, is normally based on ontological realism. "Just as natural science produces idealism out of realism by spiritualizing the laws of nature into laws of intelligence, or adding the formal to the material, so transcendental philosophy brings realism out of idealism by materializing the laws of intelligence into laws of nature , or to add the material to the formal. "( Schelling )

Another anti-realist position is fictionalism , whose advocates reject a recognizability of reality, but for pragmatic reasons consider it sensible to start from the fiction of a reality.

Poor realism

Immanuel Kant describes the classic debate on realism as follows:

“By an idealist one does not have to understand someone who denies the existence of external objects of the senses, but who simply does not admit that it is known through direct perception, but concludes from this that we are never completely certain of their reality through every possible experience can. […] This [transcendental] idealism is opposed to a transcendental realism, which regards time and space as something given in itself (independent of our sensuality). The transcendental realist therefore imagines external appearances (if one admits their reality) as things in themselves that exist independently of us and our sensuality [...]. "(KrV A 369)

Kant distinguished empirical realism from transcendental realism.

“All external perception, then, immediately proves something real in space, or is rather the real itself, and to this extent empirical realism is beyond doubt; i. something real in space corresponds to our external perceptions. Of course, space itself, with all its appearances, is only in me, but in this space the real, or the material of all objects of external perception, is really given and independent of all fiction, and it is also impossible: that in this space something outside of us (in the transcendental sense) should be given, because space itself is nothing outside of our sensuality. [...] The real of external appearances is really only in perception and cannot be real in any other way. ”(KrV A 375–376)

The epistemological position of Kant himself is that of a transcendental idealism combined with an empirical realism. This means that for Kant there was no knowledge without empirical perception, but that the knowledge is shaped by the pure, a priori understanding concepts (space, time, categories) due to the faculties of the understanding. If one ignores general human subjectivity, and with it space and time, as the associated forms of perception, what remains, however, is an unknowable residue that Kant calls a thing-in-itself . So there are still things that are not in phenomenality, i. H. showing oneself, rise. Kant's position is therefore described as very weak realism. Thomas S. Kuhn has recently taken a similar position . Michael Devitt described this position as “fig leaf realism”, which is actually anti-realism. John R. Searle criticized that the position could not be refuted as long as nothing concrete was said about the real world.

Carl Friedrich Gethmann points out that the question of realism cannot be clarified in terms of content for Kant. Kant's theorem reads: “The mere, but empirically determined, awareness of my own existence proves the existence of objects in space outside of me”. (KrV B 274) Self-confidence is indeed a condition of reality, but consciousness is empirically founded. And therefore it cannot make any statement about its own basis. Reality as the “explanandum” (that which is to be explained) cannot be explained by the consciousness based on reality. A theory of reality cannot provide reasons for the real, but only point out the limits of the concept. If you want to explain consciousness from consciousness, like Fichte, a circle emerges. "The sentence" x is unknowable "or" nothing can be said about x "contains a contradiction, since it says that no predicator is known for x and still predicts" unknowable "."

Naive realism

A naive realism is compared to Kant the other extreme of realistic views. Representatives of this position assume that the world is the way people perceive it. It is of course taken into account that there are hallucinations and that the perceived sensory data is only converted by cognitive processes in the brain. However naive realists see a direct imaging ratio between the world and the ideas in consciousness. Overall, therefore, humans perceive the world as it essentially is. Since this view corresponds to everyday understanding, it is also called common sense realism. In modern philosophy, George Edward Moore is mentioned as a prominent representative. Moore's main objection to idealism is that it confuses perception with the object itself. Above all, in idealism one becomes entangled in contradictions when one denies cognitively evident facts.

“I can now prove, for example, that two human hands exist. How? By raising both hands, making a certain gesture with my right hand and saying, 'Here is a hand', and then adding, making a certain gesture with my left hand, 'Here is another'. And when, in doing so, I ipso facto have proven the existence of external conditions, you will all see that I can do it for a variety of other ways; it is superfluous to accumulate further examples. "

The Moore position corresponded to the "New Realism", which at the beginning of the 20th century had its main representatives in the United States with William Pepperell Montague and Ralph Barton Perry . A direct realism tied to a mapping relationship can also be found in the reflection theory of dialectical materialism .

Representational realism

René Descartes or John Locke can be seen as a forerunner of this position . Compared to naive realism, this position assumes that reality can only be recognized through a mediating act of consciousness . Bertrand Russell describes this type of view as follows:

“But I am of the opinion that however we may define our self, even if it is accepted as the pure subject, it cannot possibly be regarded as part of the immediate object of our senses. If we formulate our problem in this way, we must admit that we can know something about the existence of beings that are independent of us. "

The starting point for this perspective is either self-awareness or so-called secondary qualities such as color, smell or taste. Such properties of objects are not directly contained in the perception, but are formed by consciousness. It is internal mental states that speak against naive realism. In the modern philosophy of mind these phenomena are discussed under the keyword qualia . Representations are sensory data, pre-linguistic and linguistic signs of reality. At a higher level, these are brought together into thoughts and beliefs. Even if the representations do not necessarily correspond in structure to reality, there is a constant relationship between the outside world and consciousness, an isomorphism . This relationship between representation and reality is understood as a causal relationship. Fred Dretske defines the nature of a representation as follows:

“The basic idea is that a system S represents a property F if and only if S has the function of displaying the F of a certain subject area (to provide information about it). S fulfills its function (if it fulfills it) by being in different states s1, s2, ..., sn, which correspond to the different, precisely determined values ​​f1, f2, ..., fn of F. "

The relationship between an object and its representation can accordingly be imagined as between the speed of a car and its display on a speedometer. For John Searle and Jerry Fodor , representations are internal states that relate to reality ( intentionality ) and are themselves real.

The criticism of representationalism, which goes back to Gilbert Ryle , points out that in this case access to reality only takes place through mental states. There is no guarantee that the associated beliefs are true. There is a circle. Beliefs in themselves are truth-neutral. The yardstick for checking beliefs is again representations. The possibility of error therefore always remains. The representationalist cannot get out of his mind to check whether there really is a world that is independent of thought. Representationalism is therefore an internalism that is incompatible with realism.

Another argument against representationalism comes from the philosophy of mind. Theories of representation assume a causal relationship between the object of perception and an inner state of the perceiver. There is a covariance between the objects and the experienced properties . According to Fred Dretske, however, this covariance is not necessary. One can imagine a golf ball without this specifically presented golf ball. "Whether there is an object or not, the experience remains an experience of whiteness, roundness, movement and surface structure."

Internal realism

The conception of the representation of reality in consciousness was discussed in the philosophy of mind under the heading of functionalism . Hilary Putnam originally played a key role in developing the concept of functionalism. According to this, mental states are based on functional events in the brain. However, since the 1970s, Putnam has developed a non-materialist counter-position that he called internal realism. This position is very similar to Kant's weak realism and has been termed idealism by critics. Putnam himself emphasized the proximity to Kant: “That is why I have examined Kant's distinction between metaphysical realism and empirical realism, and I reject the former while recognizing the later. ('Internal realism'). "

Putnam's main argument is the “model theory argument”. To this end, Putnam first defined the opposite position of “metaphysical realism”. This then consists of three basic theses:

  1. The world consists of a somehow certain totality of mind-independent objects.
  2. There is exactly one true and complete description of the being of the world.
  3. Truth is a kind of correspondence relationship between words or signs of thought and external objects or facts.

Fallibilism is still part of realism , because reality is the yardstick for true statements. In comparison to common sense realism, this formulation of realism is philosophically weaker, since no statement has yet been made about the type of recognizability of the world. The approach to criticism lies in the observer perspective underlying metaphysical realism. In order to represent the position of the realist, one has to take a "God standpoint". The realist makes statements about the world as if he does not belong to it.

In a second step, Putnam argued that realism must be understood as a theory in which reality is represented as a model. Part of this view as a theory is that a theory is fundamentally fallible because as a model it is not identical with reality. Even a theory that has proven itself unreservedly and of which one cannot see how it could possibly be refuted in the future implies in principle that it is not independent of knowledge. This means that one basically cannot objectively determine the truth value of a theory. Statements in a theory are always open to interpretation. Truth is limited to the semantic level in which there is a correspondence between predicates and the elements of their scope (extensions). This implies that the reference to an object is always theory-dependent. With this argument Putnam rejected a knowledge-independent reality. "The spirit and the world together create the spirit and the world."

Reality is restricted to a correspondence between language and reality. You can't say anything about the world without using language. But if there were no language-independent reality, it would not be possible to decide which theory is the better.

“Regardless of the conceptual schemes, there are no 'objects'. We split the world into objects by introducing this or that descriptive scheme. Since the objects and the signs are both internal elements of the description scheme, it is possible to indicate what corresponds to whom. "

Putnam later gave up this much discussed position of internal realism and returned to a version of direct realism (see below).

Critical realism

In critical realism, the idea of ​​direct access to reality, for example through direct sensory impressions, is rejected. However, there is an external world independent of human thought. An early representative of this way of thinking is Johann Friedrich Herbart : "How many appearances, so many indications of being" Another early representative of this worldview is Eduard von Hartmann . Wilhelm Wundt made the distinction between naive and critical realism as early as 1895. In the early 20th century this position can be found with Oswald Külpe , Alois Riehl , the early Moritz Schlick or Aloys Wenzl . The American Roy Wood Sellars coined the term "Critical Realism". George Santayana and Arthur O. Lovejoy were also among the early American critical realists

An important representative of critical realism in Germany was Nicolai Hartmann , for whom in the subject-object relationship the object is not created by the subject, but is a constant quantity. This means "that knowledge is not a creation, production or production of the object, as the idealism of old and new waters wants to teach us, but an apprehension of something that is also present before all knowledge and independently of it". The distinction between object awareness and self-awareness is based on fundamental experience. Man gradually grasps real beings more and more, but his cognitive ability is so limited that the knowledge is neither completely adequate nor similar to the being.

Moritz Schlick argued against Kant's weak realism:

“Let us assume that only 'appearances' are accessible to our knowledge, behind which there are unknown things in themselves, then these things would be recognized at the same time as the appearances, because since our concepts are assigned to the appearances, these are to the things in themselves were assumed to be assigned, our terms also designate the latter, because a sign of the sign is also a sign for what is designated. "

For Schlick it was implausible to talk about individual phenomena and at the same time to claim that one could not make any statements about their reality. Schlick's realism is based on the “method of coincidence”. This is the multiple checking of one's own perception, but also the agreement with the perception of third parties. Due to this coincidence, terms are formed. This is an underlying fact also in the sciences. In this sense, correspondence is understood to be an accurate representation. Schlick's position is critical because he assumed that there is no similarity between language and reality.

“Strictly speaking, all of our knowledge of reality are hypotheses. No scientific truth, be it historical or part of exact natural research, makes an exception to this, none is in principle safe from the danger of being refuted and invalid at some point. "

Like other realistic positions, critical realism must also be held up against the fact that, as a philosophical theory, it cannot explain being in itself without getting into a circle.

Critical realism can also be found in the critical rationalism of Karl Popper and Hans Albert . He is represented without a justification claim, but with a truth claim. Critical rationalism assumes that reason is not characterized by the justification of the truth or the fact that an assertion is held to be true, but rather by the strict a posteriori examination by means of criticism, which does not aim at the reproach of a lack of justification, but attacks the criticized assertion itself. From this point of view, reality does not have to be 'recognized' before statements can be made about it; it is sufficient if such statements are represented as tentative assumptions and are permanently kept open to criticism. Critical realism is therefore a consequence of scientific theories, not an assumption that is necessary for science, precedes it or must be presupposed by it; it is therefore not an ontological foundation, but a cosmological discovery. Access to reality is only possible through such theories (which are all “a priori content, namely genetically a priori”, but are not valid a priori). Popper turned against the "epistemology of everyday understanding", which assumes that statements about the world are derived through sensory experience and that sensory experiences are therefore entitled to a claim to justification or authority. This assumption inevitably leads to an anti-realism. According to Popper, theories can neither be derived from sensory experience nor positively verified by reality. They can only be rejected negatively: "This kind of information - the rejection of our theories by reality - is [...] in my eyes the only information we can get from reality: everything else is our own ingredient." Against anti-realistic Interpretations of quantum theory Popper argued with a realistic interpretation that he himself established and further developed. Hans Albert referred in particular to research on perception as an argument for realism. Critical rationalism therefore assumes that the usual objections to realism are based on false assumptions, that the problem of realism can be solved tentatively with critical realism and that this solution is criticizable, rationally debatable and thus accessible to reason.

In Great Britain a philosophy of science developed since the 1970s, which is also called "critical realism", founded by Roy Bhaskar .

Hypothetical realism

The hypothetical realism is a variant of critical realism, is expected in the fact that the realism question can not be solved in itself, but that it is appropriate to use realism as a useful hypothesis is based. This view can already be found in Hermann von Helmholtz . In contemporary philosophy, a corresponding position is represented by Gerhard Vollmer .

Vollmer has worked out a more detailed rationale for the hypothetical realism. It forms the basis of his evolutionary epistemology , in which he tries to connect his naturalistic worldview with critical rationalism. Vollmer describes his conception of reality with seven postulates :

  1. Existence: There is a world independent of perception and consciousness.
  2. Structure: The world has real principles of order (e.g. symmetry, invariances, topological and metric structures, laws of nature, things, systems)
  3. Continuity: There is a continuous connection between all areas of reality.
  4. Foreign consciousness: Other individuals (including animals) also have sensory impressions and consciousness.
  5. Interaction: sense organs are affected by the real world (causal relationship)
  6. Brain function: thinking and consciousness are functions of the brain, i.e. a natural organ
  7. Objectivity: (Scientific) statements should be objective (intersubjectively understandable and verifiable, independent of the observer and the method as well as not conventional)

Vollmer emphasizes that these postulates correspond to beliefs that are neither evident nor provable. Its only requirement is that they are compatible with one another and that the conclusions drawn from them do not contradict one another. Above all, they have to be proven as hypotheses. So you must not violate empirical findings. The, albeit hypothetical, conception of the existence and recognizability of reality is supported by a number of arguments:

  • the psychological evidence that instinctively makes people act as if the world were directly recognizable
  • the structure of human language in which the description of the world proceeds from its existence
  • the simplicity of the hypothesis about realism compared to other theories
  • compatibility with the assumption that all science is heuristic
  • the success, i.e. the verification of the realism hypothesis
  • the intersubjective comparability of the perceptual reactions of different living beings with different cognitive apparatus (worms, crabs, insects, vertebrates including humans)
  • the recognizability of objects (constancy of perception)
  • the convergence of measurement methods (different techniques tend to produce the same results)
  • the convergence of the measurement results (the more precise the method, the lower the scatter)
  • Reality as a measure of error (refutation of theories)

Similar to representationalism, Vollmer assumes a projective relationship between the real world and the contents of knowledge.


Charles S. Peirce represented an expressly strong realism, which also includes universals , in Pragmaticism . His concept of reality can be described with the short formula: What is not fictional is real. In this respect, laws of nature have reality, as they have “a decided tendency to be fulfilled” (CP 1.26). Since one can make prognoses with the laws of nature, it is true that “future events are actually governed to a certain extent by a law” (ibid., Cf. also CP 5.100). In particular, the laws of logic and mathematics also had a reality for Peirce. He tied his idea of ​​the reality of universals closely to the concept of the continuum . He saw one of the reasons for this in Cantor's theorem , "that the power set formed over a set is always greater than this."

"It is absurd to assume that any collection of well-differentiated individuals, as all collections of uncountable thicknesses are, can have as great a thickness as that of the collection of the possible collections of their individual elements."
“The continuum, in whatever dimension it may be, is everything that is possible. But the general or universal of ordinary logic also includes all sorts of things, of whatever kind it may belong. And so the continuum is what turns out to be true universals in the logic of the relative. "

Peirce found it a special disposition of the human mind to think in terms of a continuum, as in the case of the concept of time . Ideas are not independent, but continuous systems and at the same time fragments of a large continuous system. “Generalization, the pouring out of continuous systems of thinking, feeling, and doing is the true purpose of life.” Reality for Peirce thus meant “that there is something in the being of things that supports the process of inferring that the world lives and moves and has its being, in which the logic of events corresponds. ”For Peirce, even the“ mechanistic philosopher ”, who advocates a fundamental nominalism, cannot escape such an idea. However, he conceded to the nominalists: "Everyone is normally a nominalist first and holds fast to this opinion until he is dissuaded from it by the fate of unacceptable facts." (CP 4,1)

The real object precedes knowledge and opens up in an infinite semiotic chain of character strings. This creates an increase in knowledge that leads the community of researchers to the knowledge of the truth in an endless process. “The real is then that in which, sooner or later, information and reason result and which therefore exists independently of your or my vagueness” (CP 5.311). In this sense, truth and reality can only be understood as regulative ideas. Due to his fallibilism, people can never be sure to what extent they have currently recognized the truth.

Reality is reflected in the three basic categories worked out by Peirce , which can be found in every observable element. "They are the being of positive qualitative possibility, the being of present facts and the being of the law that determines the facts in the future." (CP 1.23)

Dispositional properties

A special problem with the establishment of a realism are so-called " dispositional properties ". The classic example is sugar, which is water soluble. The fact that an object has a dispositional property cannot normally be perceived until a situation occurs in which the property is “realized”. Similar properties are fragile, conductive, magnetizable, etc. Dispositional properties meet the criterion of empirical verifiability. Statements about this can therefore be true or false. Such traits include people's skills (swimming or cycling). "Dispositional assertions are not reports about observed circumstances, but neither are they about unobserved or unobservable facts."

If dispositions are mere possibilities, the question arises as to whether they are real. Corresponding to the distinction between primary and secondary qualities (qualia) one could consider dispositional properties as a third type of properties. Such properties become effective through causal causation (functionalism). But if sugar never comes into contact with water, then solubility can never be determined. Doesn't it then exist?

On the other hand, modal properties can be viewed as properties of an object just like its shape and color, if one refers to its physical structure as a reason (not as a cause). But why does wine make you drunk? A purely chemical-physical explanation extends scientific knowledge, but does not replace the experience that this same chemical-physical constellation makes you drunk. You have to know the causal effect in order to be able to describe it.

Semantic realism

Michael Dummett describes semantic realism as follows:

“I characterize realism as the conviction that statements of the class under discussion have an objective truth value. Regardless of our ability to know them, they are true or false with regard to a reality that exists independently of us. The antirealist counters this view that statements of the class under discussion may only be understood as a reference with reference to a type of object that we classify as evident for statements of this class. "

Dummett points out that the semantic realist must assume a correspondence-theoretical concept of truth and, for his part, takes the view that truth can only be understood in the sense of verification, i.e. confirmation through empirical examination. According to Dummett, a realist has to accept the so-called “ bivalence principle ”. If there is a particular reality, statements about it must be true or false. Descriptive statements are clearly decidable for the realist. Now, with reference to Frege and the later Wittgenstein , Dummett objects that the meaning of sentences depends on the context and their use, i.e. a social community. However, this means that the criterion of truth is dependent on subjective, albeit mostly public, circumstances. The principle of bivalence is therefore not sustainable.

The semantic counter-thesis against realism can already be found in Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus : “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” (TLP 5.6) Davidson has strengthened the thesis based on the argument of untranslatability in Quine to the effect that it it is inconsistent to assume a reality that cannot be grasped in language or a conceptual scheme. Nelson Goodman is a representative of the semantic version of idealism , who takes the view that a new world is created with every description.

Thomas Nagel objected to this that it is entirely conceivable that reality contains aspects that exceed the human capacity for knowledge. In doing so, people can, even if they consequently cannot make any statements about these aspects themselves, speak about these facts as such without violating the rules of language and communication. Nagels’s thesis is supported by the fact that there are animals that have sensory organs that humans do not have at their disposal (e.g. bats - ultrasound or pigeons - terrestrial magnetism) or that have completely different perceptions with their senses (smell, sound frequencies).

Incidentally, Nagel represents a modern variant of critical realism, which he describes as "radical realism":

“As a way of understanding, there are limits to objectivity that go hand in hand with the fact that it leaves the subject behind. Such limits are their inner limits. Objectivity, however, also has external limits which will turn out differently for different kinds of knowing beings and which do not depend on the nature of the objectivity itself, but on the question of how far it can be pushed by a particular being. It's just a way of expanding our understanding of the world. Not only does it leave aspects of reality behind, but some aspects do not even become accessible to it - although these aspects could in principle also be contained in a stronger and more comprehensive reality. "

Referring directly to Goodman, Alan Musgrave made a polemical comment on anti-realism: “So that means that actually all science is on the wrong track. Astronomy is wrong: it assumes that there was a world before there were words. The geology is wrong: it assumes the same thing. Evolutionary biology is also wrong. "

Direct realism

In the more recent philosophical discussion, for example, Michael Devitt , John McDowell and, in his most recent view, Hilary Putnam, advocate direct realism. As a result, this position is largely comparable to naive realism. It differs from the naive view by a detailed rejection of anti-realistic positions in the semantic sense. Within direct realism there are very different lines of argument.

Michael Devitt gave the debate an important boost. His definition of realism is: " Tokens [individual things] of most everyday and scientific types exist independently of the mental." With regard to universals, Devitt advocated nominalism. Against internal realism, he objects that this too is only a - fallible - theory. Antirealism assumes an internal view of the world that begins with knowledge without prior experience. According to Devitt, however, this is not the case. Every epistemologist already works in an environment of established scientific theories.

Devitt developed the "causal theory of reference" against anti-realism. He took up the meaning theory of Saul Aaron Kripke . According to Devitt, there are causal relationships between linguistic expressions and the objects they designate, which arise from the fact that the objects or classes of objects were originally baptized with the respective name. The reason why an object falls under a concept is not an internalistic interpretation, but reality itself. Whether the name Aristotle is used correctly is not decided by an interpretation, but by the historical relationship between expression and person.

Putnam defends his model theory argument against Devitt by pointing out that the causal theory of reference is also a theory that is fallible in principle. For Putnam, the fundamental problem of internal realism (which "my own self" represented) lies in its premises. According to Putnam, even the critics of internal realism did not recognize this point of criticism. This is based on a theory of reference. Predicates or sensory data are understood as representations. These representations are thought to be contained in consciousness. Putnam changed his view on this point and assumes, similar to Austin in "Sense and Sensibilia" (1962), that there is not a causal relationship but a direct cognitive relationship between object and expressions. What is perceived does not exist in consciousness, but continues to exist in the outside world (externalism). For the direct realist there is no “interface” of perception in consciousness. As a consequence, according to Putnam, one can accept the correspondence theory of truth and must reject the “verificationist explanation of understanding”.

“In terms of perception and conceptualization, there is nothing in our common sense realism that is 'anti-scientific' in the sense that it would represent an obstacle to serious attempts to develop better neurological or computational models for those brain processes of on which our perception and understanding depend - processes about which we still know very little. Moreover, it is a fundamental mistake to seriously equate science with that Cartesianism-cum-materialism that has been trying to put on the cloak of science for three centuries. "

In their justification of realism, Peter Strawson and John McDowell start with the view that everyday language is given to humans by nature (is a priori ), even if the respective expression has arisen socially and historically. The question of knowledge of reality must be answered taking into account language, conceptual scheme and way of life . An external "God standpoint" is not available to man. The relation to the world arises for both from the relation to the world of experience. For both, the receptivity of experience in perception, assumed by Kant, represents the transition to the real world. Perception is indeed shaped by existing knowledge and previous experience, but perceptual judgments arise directly without detour via representations such as sensory impressions. Richard Schantz adds that learning and research make cognitive processes reversible. How one perceives the world depends on the ability of the person, but not the state of the world itself. Above all, the content of the sensual experience is much more "fine-grained" than a person can represent. Perceptual judgments, even if they are phenomenologically colored, do not relate to informational states, but directly to the world.

Scientific realism

The basic thesis of positions of scientific realism could be characterized as follows: Scientific theories create a worldview that corresponds to the real structures of the world. Scientific realists claim that proven theories are at least approximately true and largely accurately capture nature. This is true despite all the problems mentioned below, which suggest various anti-realistic counter-theses, such as the problem that the world itself, especially in its underlying structures and laws, does not seem directly accessible to the human senses.

One of the arguments for realistic positions of the philosophy of science is that this assumption is necessary in the practical work of the empirical sciences, since otherwise a justification for prognoses or descriptions of causal relationships to explain existing phenomena (theories) would not be possible. Arguments are somewhat weaker which say that realistic reconstructions of the actual activity and the actual success of the individual sciences and their theories are most likely to take into account: Theories lead to predictable results. Scientists in the empirical sciences such as physics, geology but also in the social sciences make statements about their subject. These statements are - at least hypothetically - assigned truth. Such observations can be used as evidence for the so-called “ miracle argument ”: without at least an implicit assumption of a real world, the results of the empirical sciences would amount to a miracle.

In particular, according to most realists, the fact of scientific progress supports realistic positions. In the course of time it can be determined which of the competing theories is more effective and has a higher explanatory power. Such a “better” theory can then be combined with a higher truth content. The history of science is in this sense an approximation of the truth.

The dynamics of scientific theories do not only suggest realistic positions. Some critics of scientific realism point out that many historical scientific theories were well confirmed in their time, factually determined the research and were held to be true, but based on current knowledge have been proven to be false.

Another anti-realistic argument is based on the observation that facts can be explained by different theories. Confirmations of a particular theory therefore do not automatically or alone verify them. One speaks here of fundamental empirical underdetermination of theories.

All knowledge of the world, including scientific knowledge, is, as some anti-realists argue, in principle “theory-laden”. It is therefore not possible to separate purely observational data from their theoretical interpretation. This mediation through the representation modalities of specific theories is reason enough for some anti-realists to deny in principle that there is a theory-independent comparability of data. Thomas Samuel Kuhn has led this to the well-known thesis that scientific knowledge, in particular the evaluation of its quality (does it confirm a certain theory or not), is fundamentally relative to underlying "paradigms" (which not only contain the mathematical core structures of theories themselves, but also e.g. conventions of various kinds, for example regarding the evaluation of data). How well or badly a theory is empirically posed, that is, in what way it “accurately grasps nature”, would therefore in principle not be assessable across the board. It can be added as a correlation that an “objectively given nature” does not exist in principle, precisely because nature is only ever accessible within the framework of a certain paradigm constituted by human research practice.

In other respects, too, anti-realists usually see scientific knowledge largely determined by the constructions of the human mind (see instrumentalism , conventionalism ). With reference to the theories of phlogiston and ether , Larry Laudan explains :

"The fact that the central concepts of a theory refer [relate to a real object] does not imply that it will be successful, and the success of a theory does not guarantee the claim that all or its most important concepts refer."

According to Laudan, one should therefore be skeptical of even current, well-confirmed theories that are true.

An important component of the usual realistic positions is the so-called entity realism , which also considers unobservable facts such as neutrons or X-rays to be something real. One argument for this is u. a. that these theoretical subjects have empirically verifiable effects. Almost all scientific realists consider such entities to be real, including Hilary Putnam , but also some scientific theorists who otherwise also represent anti-realistic theses, including Ian Hacking , who does not ascribe theories themselves an independent reality. To make things clearer, Hacking tells of a conversation with a nuclear physicist:

“How do you change the voltage on a niobium ball ? 'Well, at this stage,' my friend said, 'let's bombard them with positrons to increase the voltage or electrons to decrease the voltage.' From that day on, I was a scientific realist. As for me, I say that if you can shoot at them, they really are. "

A well-respected critic of scientific realism is Bas van Fraassen , who emphasizes that the goal of science does not have to be truth. The thesis of his constructive empiricism is that theories only have to be empirically adequate. Empirically adequate means that the statements about observable things and events should correspond to the observations. Van Fraassen rejects the existence of theoretical entities in particular. The limits of observability result from the human perception apparatus and the (constructed) theories. One can object to this view that scientific practice behaves differently, namely as if microphysical elements exist. From the point of view of realists, the drawing of boundaries on the perceptual apparatus is arbitrary, precisely because people are limited. Objects and facts can also be observed for which a causal interaction with measuring devices can be determined.

Some philosophers of science distinguish between theories and models. According to this usage, there are different models of the atomic nucleus ( droplet model , shell model ), which are preferred depending on the question. When speaking of the practical validity of theories, it is often overlooked that the empirical results are obtained from models on which the experiments or observations are based. Models, because they are simplifications per se, can at best reproduce partial structures of reality, but not reality as it is. As many anti-realists in particular emphasize, their acceptance depends on their function and the interests of the scientists involved. It is therefore possible that a theory is only preferred because its data is easier to obtain or the model used corresponds better to the question of the theory.

Accordingly, the question is discussed whether models actually represent reality (relevant realism) or whether reality is first constituted by models (antirealism). Likewise, the question arises whether legal statements about reality only go as far as the models go. The alternative view would be that theories (laws) can also claim general validity beyond models. The realist's argument remains that the models are part of the possibilities of error in the knowledge of reality and that their flawedness decreases with scientific progress.

When it comes to statements made by science about reality, it is hardly disputed that

  • she translates reality into symbols (mathematical signs and a theoretical language) and
  • the scientific data arise on the basis of theories (are theory-loaded) and are interpreted.

Theories or sciences in general therefore only ever have to do with the world insofar as it is represented in a certain way by the respective theory itself. For some theorists of science, this suggests a pluralism of terms, for example for natural species or other anti-realistic or constructivist theses.

The “everyday” scientific work consists to a large extent in the application of fundamentally already established theories. Questions about the relation to reality therefore do not arise directly here, only, for example, in individual fundamental research areas of theoretical physics or at best with objects such as climate models or the big bang theory.

Ethical realism

Ethical realism says that there are objective facts of value that apply regardless of a subjective belief. The ethical realist opposes the conventionalist view that values ​​can be derived solely from personal preferences . When ethical realists assume that existing moral facts can be known, one speaks of cognitivism . For representatives of this position, prescriptive (prescriptive) sentences such as “You should not kill!” Are truthful. For the realist, moral facts are not constituted; they exist independently of the knowing subject.

The opposite position to ethical cognitivism is noncognitivism . Its representatives reject the acceptance of a truth criterion for moral judgments. For noncognitivists, adherence to ethical rules is a matter of character, not knowledge. Morality can therefore only be trained as habitus, but not learned as abstract knowledge.

A representative of noncognitivism in contemporary philosophy is Simon Blackburn , who points out that the criticism of noncognitivist ethicists of cognitivism is not directed against moral expressions, but only its claim to objectivity. The non-cognitivist only criticizes the justification of ethical statements, but not the values ​​and judgments found in practice. However, amoralists fully agree with the non-cognitivist criticism.

According to methodical constructivism, the knowledge of a subject-independent value should be easy to accomplish, in that the ethical realist simply specifies the generally applicable methodological steps how someone comes from his everyday understanding of value. Here, value realists usually find it difficult, because, in contrast to the reconstruction of scientific knowledge, they have not yet been able to describe a method for value knowledge that is generally accepted as comprehensible.

Another argument against ethical realism is directed towards the fact that, analogous to the epistemological discussion of the correspondence theory of truth (see also Münchhausen Trilemma ), there is no logical possibility of justifying the existence of ethical values. Hence any claim that a moral proposition is true is a mistake. A well-known proponent of such an error theory is John Leslie Mackie . Ethical realists, like epistemological realists, refer against this argument to the success of their position in everyday practice (see the arguments on hypothetical realism). But since violations of moral norms cannot and often occur, it is unclear what these successes consist of.

Cognitivists bring u. a. three arguments against noncognitivists:

  • When evaluations are understood functionally, they are not really moral judgments.
  • The non-cognitivist thesis that normative judgments are not truthful contradicts the everyday language in which people ask themselves whether they should really or really do this or that without referring to social authorities.
  • Noncognitivists can only give relative moral justifications and thus fall under the criticism of the amoralists.
Basic attitudes towards
ethical realism

- naturalistic
(empirical objects)
- non-naturalistic
(Evidence, intuition)
- supra-naturalistic
(exogenous instance)

- skepticism (Hume)
- idealism (empiricism)

Ethical realism

Within metaethical cognitivism there are different ways of establishing the recognizability of ethical principles. If properties and facts, which are the subject of empirical sciences, become the standard, one speaks of ethical naturalism . In this way nature becomes an independent value in the modern ecological movement, or in Kant and others the dignity of the human being. This also includes the principle of self-preservation of the species. In this case, the ethical is linked with a reductionist epistemological naturalism. The same applies to the notion that altruism is already genetically created ( Richard Dawkins ). George Edward Moore had opposed this with the argument of the open question (infinite recourse). Representatives of naturalistic ethical realism include Richard Boyd , David Kellogg Lewis and, in Germany, Peter Schaber.

If the justification for the existence of values ​​is traced back to an entity independent of humans, for example to God , one speaks of supernaturalism. It is based on religious revelation or spiritual insight. One can also see the preference utilitarianism as such an insight , for which utility optimization is an exogenously given principle.

The most important position of ethical cognitivism is nonnaturalism. Its advocates claim that values ​​can be recognized from a direct faculty of insight, from the "phenomenology of experience" as a non-sensual faculty of knowledge. Just as in aesthetics about the beautiful, a person can judge what is good in ethical questions through a special sensitivity. This is not a process of perception, but the ability to judge a given situation. Moral properties of a state of affairs are to be understood in a similar way to secondary qualities or dispositional properties. Just as red is seen as a perceived quality, so justice or disgust is to be judged as a quality of a moral fact. For the nonnaturalist moral facts cannot be grasped by reductionist theories any more than qualia. Based on Wittgenstein, moral rules, like language rules, can only be determined through their use within a form of life. Max Scheler, Nicolai Hartmann and George Edward Moore can be counted among the representatives of nonnaturalism. This position is also known as rational intuitionism . In contemporary philosophy it is represented by John McDowell , David Wiggins or Mark Platts, and in Germany by Franz von Kutschera . The position tends towards value relativism , as there are different forms of life in which different values ​​are recognized, e.g. B. Freedom and self-determination of the individual in one culture, harmony and social cohesion in the other. One criticism of the position considers the comparison with qualia to be misleading, since qualia cannot be thought without the sensual perception of natural objects. The analogous bases that trigger moral judgments may not even exist, but are certainly not perceived organically.

Weak ethical realism

Positions that are limited to accepting the truthfulness of ethical statements can be described as weak ethical realism. The thesis reads: "The moral realist only differs from the anti-realist when he asserts: moral judgments have the truth value and can also have the truth value 'true'."

As in epistemology, it is of the essence of ethical realism that fallibilism is recognized. For the realist, moral judgments can always be flawed.

In order to rationally conduct the discussion of realism within an acceptable range, ethical realists usually limit the scope of moral judgments:

  • The literal interpretation requires that the description of the subject area must not fundamentally contradict the intuitive everyday conception.
  • Appropriateness is a requirement that is intended to rule out excessive quibbles. Counterfactual thought experiments with conditions that are too special, such as excluding a subjective model of action, are not appropriate. For example, objects with only physical properties, such as stones or electrons, are neither hard-hearted nor unjust.

Strong ethical realism

A fundamental ethical realist believes that there are objective standards for the truth of moral statements. There are different ideas about the rules according to which a statement should be recognized as true:

  1. Rationalistic moral realism
    It is believed by Kantians like John Rawls that one can find maxims that are universally valid for a practical rationality. This includes the ontological existence of the underlying standards.
  2. Procedural moral realism
    Thomas Nagel does not consider it necessary that an ethical realist must assign an ontological status to moral values: “The position that recognizes values ​​as real does not mean that they are occult entities or qualities, but that they are real values: that a judgment about these values ​​and the reasons people have for their work can be true or false regardless of our convictions or inclinations. ”Instead, one can find methods that create objectivity in the evaluation of moral statements. To evaluate a statement, Nagel suggests taking a stand that disregards subjective interests and judging impartially. Similarly, Adam Smith had already suggested that the judgment of an uninvolved, neutral observer be used as the basis for deciding ethical questions. For Nagel, in contrast to Mackie, it is not a question of whether there is good, but rather whether there are impartial reasons for judging something as good.
  3. Substantial value realism
    Based on the philosophy of values at the beginning of the 20th century ( Heinrich Rickert , Robert Reininger ), there are representatives of ethical realism who assume that values ​​as entities of a special kind have an ontological existence. According to Max Scheler, there are “real and true value qualities” which “are completely independent of the existence of a world of goods in which they appear, as well as of the movement and change in this world of goods in history and are a priori for their experience”. The phenomenology of values, to which Nicolai Hartmann also belongs, justifies the existence of values ​​with their evidence . The position is also known as moral intuitionism . Here, too, one can distinguish between a strong and a weak conception. Strong means complete, weak at least partial independence from subjective influences such as interests, wishes or wills.

The criticism of this view points out that the assertion of objective values ​​does not yet show what these objective values ​​are. In this way, very different values ​​may be evident for different people. Amoralists claim that for them no values ​​are evident.

Criticism of the realism debate

Rudolf Carnap called the philosophical discussion about the opposition of realism and idealism a pseudo-problem. Answering this question made no sense for him because of the metaphysical presuppositions associated with both the thesis of realism and the thesis of idealism, nor was it necessary for the progress of science. Such philosophical considerations are not relevant because they evade empirical verification. Carnap pointed out that it does not matter whether the scientist who determines the height of a mountain in Africa has a realistic or an idealistic view of the world.

Karl Marx justified his criticism with the lack of usefulness for human practice: “The question of whether objective truth belongs to human thinking - is not a question of theory, but a practical question. In practice, man must know the truth, i. e. Prove reality and power, this-sidedness of his thinking. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thought - which is isolated from practice - is a purely scholastic question. "

To Kant's regret that it is a “ scandal of philosophy ”, that “existence outside us” can only be believed and not proven (KrV B XL), Martin Heidegger replies : “The 'scandal of philosophy' does not consist in the fact that this proof is still pending, but rather in the fact that such proofs are expected and tried again and again ”, because“ it is not to prove that and how an 'outside world' exists, but rather to show why the existence as in-the-world -being has the tendency to bury the 'outside world' first 'epistemologically' in nullity in order to only then prove it. ”The fact of being-in-the-world has always included a preconceived notion about reality, which through philosophical Considerations cannot be left behind.

Even Richard Rorty has rejected the question of realism and anti-realism. He described the contrast between Davidson and Nagel (see above) as an antinomy . While realism is connected with a correspondence theory of truth, the anti-realistic philosopher demands a coherence of statements about facts in order to recognize them as true. Rorty was of the opinion that there is no fundamental contradiction between the two concepts of truth. For him there was no de facto opposition between realism and idealism. Simon Blackburn takes a similar position . Whether one examines the theoretical model argument or follows the criterion of bivalence or based on other points of discussion, realists and anti-realists will always end up accepting statements about objects and facts in the same way.


Philosophy Bibliography : Realism - Additional Bibliography on the Subject

For the introduction
  • Marcus Willaschek (Ed.): Realismus , Schöningh, Paderborn / Munich / Vienna / Zurich 2000, ISBN 3-8252-2143-1 (UTB).
  • Christoph Halbig, Christian Suhm (ed.): What is really. Recent contributions to debates on realism in philosophy , ontos, Frankfurt 2004, ISBN 3-937202-28-5 .
  • MERKUR special issue: Reality? Paths to Reality , Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 978-3-608-97073-9 .
  • Markus Gabriel, Malte Dominik Krüger: What is Reality? New Realism and Hermeneutic Theology, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2018, ISBN 978-3-16-156598-4 .
  • Robert S. Cohen / Risto Hilpinen / Qiu Renzong (eds.): Realism and Anti-Realism in the Philosophy of Science , Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht 1996.
  • Michael Devitt : Realism and Truth , Blackwell, Oxford 1984, revised. 2nd A. 1991.
  • Michael Dummett : Truth and other Enigmas , Cambridge, Ma. 1978.
  • Volker Gadenne: Reality, Consciousness and Knowledge. On the topicality of Moritz Schlick's realism , Koch, Rostock 2003, ISBN 3-937179-01-1 .
  • Andreas Hüttemann: Idealizations and the goal of physics. An investigation into realism, empiricism and constructivism in the theory of science , de Gruyter, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-11-015281-9 >.
  • Ilkka Niiniluoto: Critical Scientific Realism , Oxford: OUP 2000, ISBN 0-19-823833-9 .
  • Hilary Putnam : Reason, Truth and History (Reason, truth, and history). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1982, ISBN 3-518-06034-1 .
  • John Searle : The Construction of Social Reality , Penguin, London 1995, German: The Construction of Social Reality: To Ontology of Social Facts , Rowohlt, Reinbek 1997, ISBN 3-499-55587-5 .
  • Ulrike Steinbrenner: Objective reality and sensual experience. On the relationship between spirit and world , ontos, Frankfurt 2007, ISBN 978-3-938793-43-5 >.
  • Marcus Willaschek: The mental access to the world: realism, skepticism, intentionality , Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-465-03247-0 .
  • Crispin Wright : Realism, Meaning, and Truth , Blackwell, Oxford, 2nd A. 1993.

Web links

Wiktionary: Realism  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. see Holger Lyre: Epistemic versus semantic realism, in: Christoph Halbig, Christian Suhm (ed.): Was istreal. Recent contributions to debates on realism in philosophy, ontos, Frankfurt 2004, 183 - 200, here 184
  2. Among the more recent debates on the subject are u. a. involved Michael Scott, Andrew Moore, Jerome Gellman, Alexander Bird , John B. Cobb, Michael Rea , Christopher Knight, Alister McGrath, Hans-Peter Großhans.
  3. Hans Peter Dürr at the Spirit and Nature conference in 1988, quoted from: Fritz Schäfer: The Buddha spoke not only for monks and nuns. 2nd edition Kristkeitz, Heidelberg-Leimen 2000, ISBN 978-3-921508-80-0 , p. 10
  4. Johann Gottlieb Fichte : The determination of people . AAI / 6, 246 (quoted from: HWPhil 8, 207)
  5. Schelling: System des transzendentalen Idealismus, 1800, in: Complete Works III, 352 (quoted from Sandkühler: Enzyklopädie Philosophie, 2005, Sp. 1348)
  6. cf. Paul Hoyningen-Huene: The Philosophy of Science Thomas S. Kuhns, Vieweg, 1989, 52
  7. Michael Devitt: Realism and Truth, Blackwell, Oxford 1984, 15
  8. John Searle: The construction of social reality: To the ontology of social facts, Rowohlt, Reinbek 1997, 182/183
  9. a b c Carl Friedrich Gethmann: Keyword: Reality, in: Handbook of basic philosophical concepts, ed. by Hermann Krings, Hans Michael Baumgartner and Christoph Wild, XENOMOI Verlag, 2nd edition Berlin 2003
  10. George Edward Moore: Proof of an Outside World (1939), in: Defense des Common Sense, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1969, 153/154
  11. ^ Bertrand Russell: Our knowledge of the outside world, Leipzig 1926, p. 96 (new edition Hamburg 2004)
  12. Fred Dretske: Die Naturalisierung des Geistes, mentis, Paderborn 1998, 14
  13. Cf. Gilbert Ryle: The Concept of Mind, Chicago, 1949 (German: The Concept of Mind)
  14. Fred Dretske: The naturalization of the mind, Paderborn 1998, 40
  15. Cf. the presentation of external conditions for determining the meaning of a term in: Hilary Putnam: The meaning of meaning, Klostermann, Frankfurt 1979
  16. Reference and Truth (1980), in: Realism and Reason, Philosophical Papers, Volume 3, Cambridge / New York, Cambridge University Press 1983, 69-86, here 80
  17. Cf. Putnam: Vernerstand, Truth and History, Frankfurt 1990, Chapter 2
  18. Hilary Putnam: The Many Faces of Realism, Open Court, La Salle 1987, 1, and literally identical: Reason, Truth and History, 11
  19. Putnam: Vernunft, Truth and History, Frankfurt 1990, 77/78
  20. Cf. Marcus Willaschek, Realismus, 24
  21. ^ Johann Friedrich Herbart: Allgemeine Metaphysik (1829), quoted from HWPhil 8, 159/160
  22. “Wilhelm Wundt: About naive and critical realism”, in: Philosophische Studien, 12th year 1895/96, 307-408 and 13th year 1896/97, 1-105 and 323-433, see HWPhil 8, 160
  23. ^ "Critical Realism and the Time Problem I," Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 5 (1908): 542-48, II: 597-602 as well as Critical Realism: A Study of the Nature and Conditions of Knowledge (Chicago: Rand McNally and Co., 1916)
  24. Nicolai Hartmann: Basic features of a metaphysics of knowledge, de Gruyter, 2nd edition Berlin 1925, 1st
  25. Moritz Schlick: General Knowledge (1918, 2nd edition 1925), Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt, 110/111
  26. ^ Schlick: General Knowledge, 433
  27. Karl Popper: Objective knowledge, Hoffmann & Campe, Hamburg 1973, chapter 2 (quote: p. 50) and Hans Albert: Critique of pure knowledge, Mohr / Siebeck, Tübingen 1987, chapter 8
  28. Karl Popper: Objective Knowledge , Chapter 2
  29. WW Bartley: Escape into Engagement , Appendix 2, Section 8
  30. ^ David Miller: Critical Rationalism (1994), 2.2i
  31. ^ Karl Popper: All life is problem solving (1984), p. 129f
  32. Karl Popper: The quantum theory and the schism of physics , quoted from Hans-Joachim Niemann: Lexikon des Kritischen Rationalismus, Mohr / Siebeck, Tübingen 2004, keyword "Reality" (p. 311)
  33. On this topic in general, cf. Hong Dingguo: On the Neutral Status of Quantum Mechanics in the Dispute of Realism vs. Anti-Realism , in: Cohen / Hilpinen / Renzong 1996, 307-316
  34. See Hans Albert: "Knowledge, Language and Reality", in: Critical Reason and Human Practice , Stuttgart, Reclam 1984, especially 112-116
  35. ^ Hermann von Helmholtz: Lectures and Speeches 2, 4th ed. 1896, 239
  36. partly verbatim after: Gerhard Vollmer: Evolutionäre epistemology, Hirzel, 8th compared to the 5th unchanged edition Stuttgart 2002, 28 - 34
  37. Vollmer, Evolutionary Epistemology, 34-40
  38. See Vollmer: Evolutionary Epistemology, 122-126
  39. ^ A b Charles S. Peirce: Natural order and drawing process, ed. and introduced by Helmut Pape, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1998, pp. 378-399 (MS 439 from 1898), here: footnote by Pape, p. 393
  40. ^ Charles S. Peirce: Natural order and drawing process, ed. and introduced by Helmut Pape, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1998, pp. 378-399 (MS 439 of 1898), p. 395
  41. ^ Charles S. Peirce: Natural order and drawing process, ed. and introduced by Helmut Pape, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1998, pp. 378-399 (MS 439 of 1898), p. 399
  42. ^ Charles S. Peirce: Natural order and drawing process, ed. and introduced by Helmut Pape, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1998, pp. 378-399 (MS 439 of 1898), p. 396
  43. ^ Gilbert Ryle: The concept of the spirit, Stuttgart 1969, 166
  44. cf. on this section Ludger Jansen: Dispositions and their reality, in: Christoph Halbig, Christian Suhm (Hrsg.): Was istreal. Recent contributions to debates on realism in philosophy, Frankfurt 2004, 118-137, especially 121-133
  45. Michael Dummett: Truth and other Enigmas, Cambridge / MA 1978, 146
  46. Nelson Goodman: Weisen der Welterzeugung, Frankfurt 1990
  47. ^ Thomas Nagel: The view from nowhere, Frankfurt 1982; Chapter 2 reprinted in: Willaschek: Realismus, 53-66
  48. ^ Nagel, in Willaschek 2000, 65
  49. Alan Musgrave: Putnam's theoretical model argument against realism, in: Volker Gadenne (ed.): Critical Rationalism and Pragmatism, Rodopi, Amsterdam 1998, 182
  50. Michael Devitt: Realism and Truth, 2nd ed. London 1991, 23
  51. Hilary Putnam: The model theoretical argument and the search for the realism of common sense, in; Willaschek, Realismus, 125-142 (original article), here 126
  52. ^ German sense and sensory experience, Reclam, Stuttgart 1975
  53. Putnam, in Willaschek, Realismus, 141
  54. ^ Hilary Putnam: The Dewey Lectures 1994. Sense, Nonsense and the Senses: An Inquiry into the Powers of the Human Mind, quoted from Putnam, in: Willaschek, Realismus, 142
  55. Peter Strawson: Einzelelding und logisches Subject, Reklam, Stuttgart 1972
  56. John McDowell: Geist und Welt, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 2001
  57. See Ulrike Steinbrenner: Objective Reality and Sensual Experience. On the relationship between spirit and world, ontos, Frankfurt 2007, 359
  58. Steinbrenner, 360
  59. Cf. already Moritz Schlick: General Knowledge (1918) 2nd ed. 1925 Reprint Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1979, 259
  60. Larry Laudan: Science and Values . Berkeley 1984, quoted from: Christian Suhm: Theoretical Entities and their Realistic Interpretation . in: Halbig / Suhm, pp. 139–181, 136
  61. ^ Ian Hacking: Representing and Intervening, Cambridge / UK 1983, 23, cf. also Moritz Schlick, General Knowledge, 248/249
  62. ^ Bas van Fraassen: The Scientific Image, Oxford 1980. 9
  63. ^ Van Fraassen, The Scientific Image, 57
  64. Cf. Christian Suhm: Theoretical Entities and their Representation, in: Halbig / Suhm, 139-181, here 170
  65. On the question of the models cf. Daniela Bailer-Jones: Realism and scientific models, in: Halbig / Suhm, 201-221
  66. Cf. Tatjana Tartian: Moral Realism. Variants and problems . in: Halbig / Suhm, 299–336, here 321
  67. See Tartian with reference to McDowell: Values ​​and Secondary Qualities, in Mind, Value, and Reality, Harvard University Press, Cambridge / Mass. 1998, 131-150
  68. Peter Schreiber: Moralischer Realismus, Freiburg 1997, 33
  69. Christoph Halbig: What is moral realism ?, in: Halbig / Suhm, 277-298, here 281
  70. Thomas Nagel: The View from Nowhere, Frankfurt 1992, 249
  71. Adam Smith, Theory of ethical feelings , cf. also Ernst Tugendhat : Lectures on Ethics
  72. Max Scheler: The formalism in ethics and the material ethics of values ​​(1916), 6th edition, Bern 1980, 37/38
  73. ^ Rudolf Carnap: Scheinprobleme in der Philosophie (1928), Meiner, Hamburg 2005.
  74. Karl Marx: Theses on Feuerbach . MEW Vol. 3, 5.
  75. Martin Heidegger: Being and time. § 43, 9th edition 1960, 205-206
  76. ^ Richard Rorty: Beyond realism and antirealism . In: L. Nagl / R. Heinrich: Where does analytical philosophy stand today? Munich / Vienna 1986.
  77. Cf. Richard Rorty: The happily lost world . In: Willaschek, Realismus, pp. 67–86.
  78. Simon Blackburn: Truth, Realism and Theory Regulation . In: Willaschek, Realismus, pp. 177–208.