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15 - A Scientific-Realist Account of Common Sense

from Part II

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 November 2020

Rik Peels
Affiliation:
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
René van Woudenberg
Affiliation:
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
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Summary

There are good reasons to endorse scientific realism and good reasons to endorse common-sense realism. However, it has sometimes been suggested that there is a tension between the two which makes it difficult to endorse both. Can the common-sense picture of the world be reconciled with the strikingly different picture presented to us by our best confirmed theories of science? This chapter critically examines proposals for doing so, and it offers a new one, which is essentially this. It is a psychological fact that we have certain common-sense beliefs. In the framework of reductive physicalism, all beliefs, including the common-sense ones, are nothing but brain states and processes. Being scientifically realist about these brain states and accepting the reductive-physicalist view of the mind, we can account for the psychological fact that we have certain common-sense beliefs with certain contents, without committing to the idea that the contents of these common-sense beliefs have to be true of the world. In this coherentist approach we are not required to relinquish our common-sense beliefs, since although they are false according to science, this very same science shows that holding those beliefs is fully rational.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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