Page 72 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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“It is worth emphasizing that almost all scientists are scientific ‘realists’; they believe
that they are completely objective or nearly so and that their facts are real.” (Orzack,
2012)
Realism
“Realism holds that there are properties that can be applied to many things, rather
than denoting a single specific individual. According to realists, these properties, so
called universals, really exist. Naïve Realism, particularly, believes that objects and
universals are as we perceive them, independently of our observation. It is naïve in
the sense that scientific descriptions and models (here: of contexts) are taken at face
value. Its ontological and epistemological assumptions and knowledge interest have
their roots in positivistic philosophies, which provide a basis for natural sciences (e.g.
naïve realism of perception).” (Oulasvirta, Tamminen, & Höök, 2005)
Important aspects of realism can be outlined as follows:
Ontological. Context is real, it is structured, and the structure can be modeled by a
learner. Contexts share properties (or universals) that exist independent of human
interpretation.
Epistemological. We can perceive context universals.
Pragmatic. If correctly recognized, we can adapt our behavior to the requirements of
the context.
In general, realism has zero tolerance for multiple simultaneous interpretations of context as
it tries to attain the “truth.” There is no room for epistemological pluralism in this culture of
thought.
“Realism has never been comfortable with ideas. It could not be otherwise: realism is
premised on the idea that ideas have no autonomous existence, can exist only in
things. So when it needs to debate ideas, as here, realism is driven to invent situations
– walks in the countryside, conversations – in which characters give voice to
contending ideas and thereby in a certain sense embody them. The notion of
embodying turns out to be pivotal.” (Coetzee, 2004)
Realism reflects a platonic conception: “reality is pre-categorized and the conceptual
categories of our mental and linguistic representation reflect this pre-categorization. The
world is prefabricated and pre­sorted in terms of categories and types. The mind adapts to
this pre-structured world through its representations. The world is pre-structured into truth-
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