Requesting help from a philosopher!

(or at least someone with a better grip on terminology than I do)


I’m trying to get a grip on what a realist theory of explanation is vs a non-realist one. This is what I have in my essay at the moment: please tell me if it’s laughably inaccurate!

“The main disagreements seem to be based round whether the philosopher is a realist or anti-realist, and if they take a naturalist or non-naturalist view. Briefly, for realists a successful explanation should correspond to some degree with a literal truth (about reality?). Non-realists accept that a succesful explanation can be a good metaphor and not strictly(literally) true. Naturalism is the idea that all phenemona can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws, while non-naturalism argues that there are aspects of reality not contained in space and time.”

One thought on “Requesting help from a philosopher!”

  1. Both questions seem to me like semantics arguments (not an uncommon pitfall in philosophy or theology). The first hinges on the definition of correspond; any explanation expressed in language uses symbols to represent arbitarily defined concepts, matter groupings (objects), patterns and so on. Any explanation of a real-world phenomenon is by default ‘good enough’; there is always more complexity we don’t or can’t include in the explanation. The second depends on what you mean by ‘explain’; quantum physics is an accepted system of laws that by definition can’t predict some of the behaviour it describes; it can only specify likelyhood. If laws are allowed to quantify uncertainty at any abstraction level they can describe any and all patterns present in a system. Self-consistent systems of physical law can be forumlated for (presumably theoretical) universes without eludician geometry or linear time, so really you’re just arguing about how tight a subset of possible physical law actual reality must occupy.

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