Perspectival Realism

Research output: Book/ReportBook


What does it mean to be a realist about science if one takes seriously the view that scientific knowledge is always perspectival, namely historically and culturally situated? In Perspectival Realism, Michela Massimi articulates an original answer to this question. The result is a philosophical view that goes under the name of ‘perspectival realism’ and it offers a new lens for thinking about scientific knowledge, realism, and pluralism in science. Perspectival Realism begins with an exploration of how epistemic communities often resort to several models and a plurality of practices in some areas of inquiry, drawing on examples from nuclear physics, climate science, and developmental psychology. Taking this plurality in science as a starting point, Massimi explains the perspectival nature of scientific representation, the role of scientific models as inferential blueprints, and the variety of realism that naturally accompanies such a view. Perspectival realism is realism about phenomena (rather than about theories or unobservable entities). The result of this novel view is a portrait of scientific knowledge as a collaborative inquiry, where the reliability of science is made possible by a plurality of historically and culturally situated scientific perspectives. Along the way, Massimi offers insights into the nature of scientific modelling, scientific knowledge qua modal knowledge, data-to-phenomena inferences, and natural kinds as sortal concepts. Perspectival realism offers a realist view that takes the multicultural roots of science seriously and couples it with cosmopolitan duties about how one ought to think about scientific knowledge and the distribution of benefits gained from scientific advancements.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages432
ISBN (Print)9780197555620
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameOxford Studies in Philosophy of Science


  • scientific perspective
  • realism
  • reliability
  • perspectival modelling
  • scientific knowledge
  • phenomena
  • inferences
  • natural kinds


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