Page 70 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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in the world, apprehended by some or all, and which are more clearly explained or
understood when placed in appropriate contexts that brings them into sharp relief.
Physical phenomena can exist without human apprehension but they only become
meaningful events, in the sense of influencing action, when noticed or observed by a
group of people, however small. … Phenomena are therefore events that unfold and
recur in the flow of time and are only meaningful when understood in context; they
are processes and not essences.” (Cupchik, 2001)
This context dependence raises significant issues regarding both ontology and epistemology –
issues that many theorists believe bring realism and constructivism into conflict. We will
suggest throughout this volume that the notion of conflict is less than helpful and that the
notion of orthogonality works better. Others (calling themselves “new realists”) have begun
to explore the implications of similar thoughts:
“A New Realism is manifesting itself, contending that postmodernists’ mistake was to
confuse ontology with epistemology, what there is with what we know about what
there is. The philosophical landscape is now polarized between the (mostly analytic)
view according to which only natural science can tell us what really exists and
another (mostly Continental) view according to which only an anti-naturalistic stance
can do justice to socio-political phenomena.” (de Caro & Ferraris, 2013)
Rosen (1985) argued that complexity was revealed by items, events, and situations that could
not be represented
except
by more than one model. (And the presence of more than one
model is a compression not a representation.) To simplify such complex items was to ignore
many of their traits. Yet, the ignored traits may be the very ones that matter in the context at
hand. Former Supreme Court Justice David Souter made a similar point in a 2010 speech at
Harvard:
“The explicit terms of the Constitution … can create a conflict of approved values,
and the explicit terms of the Constitution do not resolve that conflict when it arises. A
choice may have to be made, not because language is vague but because the
Constitution embodies the desire of the American people, like most people, to have
things both ways. We want order and security, and we want liberty. And we want not
only liberty but equality as well. These paired desires of ours can clash, and when
they do a court is forced to choose between them, between one constitutional good
and another one.”
In Science 2, the general notion is that instead of a single objective account, we must learn to
become comfortable with multiple, partial, subjective, and even conflicting accounts. Single
accounts, ascribed labels, adherence to categories and to coding, are all in accordance with
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