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Realism

Klaus Bruhn Jensen


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A classic position in the history of ideas and theory of science, realism assumes that the world exists independently of human minds, and that it lends itself to intersubjective inquiry, even if humans – individually, collectively, and as a species – may be unable to understand reality in all its aspects ( Nagel 1986 ). In recent theory of science, realism has regained influence in comparison with other major positions such as →  critical rationalism and →  constructivism. Pavitt (1999) suggested that realism is currently the dominant position in theory of science, and that it informs the practice of much current media and communication research. (In literary and other aesthetic theory, realism denotes fictional forms that represent reality in the categories of everyday experience [→  Fiction ; Realism in Film and Photography ; Reality and Media Reality].) The general tenets of realism can be laid out with reference to three components of Roy Bhaskar's (1979) influential critical realism . Ontological realism : rejecting skepticist and idealist premises – that no knowledge of the empirical world is possible, or that reality equals the sum of our conceptions of it – realism questions such “anthropocentrism”: “Copernicus argued that the universe does not revolve around man. And yet in philosophy we still represent things as if it did” (Bhaskar cited in Archer et al. 1998 ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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