Jeff Kochan

Published On


Page Range

pp. 53-110

Print Length

57 pages

Chapter Two - A Minimal Realism for Science Studies

  • Jeff Kochan (author)
In Chapter Two, it is argued that a ‘minimal realism’ may be drawn from Heidegger’s existential model of scientific subjectivity. Heidegger affirms that things are, that they exist, independently of subjects, but rejects any attempt to determine what they are independently of subjects. This distinction between that-being and what-being gives grounds to minimal realism. It allows us to accept the core realist doctrine of independent existence (thatness), without also committing to the doctrine of independent essence (whatness). Kochan then demonstrates that Heidegger’s minimal realism is remarkably compatible with SSK’s “residual realism,” which affirms the independent existence of an external world, but rejects the claim that scientific truths are determined by that world. This compatibility can be further strengthened through the work already done in Chapter One: equipping SSK with Heidegger’s alternative model of subjectivity. With this combination in place, Kochan considers Joseph Rouse’s criticisms of SSK and Heidegger. Rouse argues that both are committed to a theory-dominated account of science, and he instead promotes a practice-based account of science. He argues that Rouse has misunderstood Heidegger’s account of science, not least because he overlooks Heidegger’s distinction between that-being and what-being, existence and essence. Furthermore, although Rouse’s criticisms of SSK do have some merit, I demonstrate that they are also marred by misinterpretation. Finally, Rouse’s meritorious criticisms of SSK can also be deflected once SSK has been combined with Heidegger. Indeed, I conclude that this combination – along with the minimal realism accompanying it – offers a more coherent and serviceable basis for a practice-based account of science than does Rouse’s alternative.


Jeff Kochan