Realists, Anti-realists, and Empiricists
Realism and Anti-realism both agree on the basic principle that science explains the world around us. The disagreement between both perspectives comes down when it is about explaining the unobservable world.
Hence Scientific realism views the aim of science to explain, or give a true description of reality, and that things exist independently from human activity, so trees, animal, and other things would last even if the human race extents. On the contrary, anti-realists, that are also known as instrumentalists, believe that science aims at explaining only the observable part of the world, and it puts forward theories about the unobservable part of the world; as atoms, in order to explain an observable phenomenon; which could be true or false, since our knowledge is limited to our observational powers. Atoms, and electrons that are theories put forward regarding non-observable entities are just convenient fiction that helps us understanding the occurrence of a phenomenon, as anti-realists believe.
Moreover Anti-realists believe in the “no miracle” argument, when a theory is proven to be empirically successful, which means that it is not a miracle if a theory provides us with the best prediction of the world around us, and that we found that theory to be true.
Nonetheless this in my opinion sat the ground for empiricists, who believe that knowledge comes from experience, and our ideas are produced depending on our five senses with the external world around us. Thus this could be linked to the concept of the acquisition of language, which is the humankind’s tool of communicating. Newborns according to B.F. Skinner are born with their brains as white, and plain sheets that language is engraved on it by their interaction with the environment around them, thus environment; as their caretakers, in the case of children, are the primary elements that they need to counterpart in order to acquire their first language. In doing so, children start linking qualities of substances as Lock notes, in order to form a category, and separate the common and shared qualities, and set them in the same category.
Hence we can conclude that children acquire the ability of language when they are exposed to the environment, this shows their knowledge as empiricists argue comes from their experience from the outside world around them. Yet, within the empiricists there are different opinions.
John Lock argues that our ideas that are initiated by our experience, is dependent on the substances around us that hold the qualities we need to form our ideas.
On the contrary George Berkeley argues that there exists bundles of qualities that we generate our ideas from by experiencing them, so to him substance, does not exist since we do not directly experience it. Berkeley concluded that it all comes from God, and here is the contradiction, since the first premise is to have an idea there should be an experience, and that experience would take place on the bases of our senses, so how can an atheist who does not believe in the existence of God be convinced with Berkeley’s point of view?
Empiricists more or less fall under the umbrella of the Anti-realists, and there could be a link between both perspectives, however; realists reject the ground basis for the former perspectives that share a common ground, which is that theories could be true or false, until they are proven empirically successful, yet empiricists are pro-rationality as it was noted by Asay (373-394). Thus this means empiricists believe that a theory could be true or false depending on how individuals perceive it, thus a theory could be true if I have experienced it and vice versa.
In this paper, it has been shown that there is a clear distinction between realists, and the anti-realists, empiricists; who both have more or less common grounds from my perspective.
Moreover, what I found more interesting was the empiricists believe, since they give enough room to philosophers to come up with their views based on their experiences, which are different from one another. Thus real philosophy in my point of view lays here; where philosophers regardless of the differences, based on their experiences would agree eventually on a theory that most find to be the true theory.