Pragmatic Realism vs. Metaphysical Realism - Implications for Scientific Knowledge Production

Based on master thesis in economic geography, University of Oslo (1994): Selv-organisering: et evolusjonært perspektiv på relasjoner mellom læring og kontekst. (Self-organisation: an evolutionary approach to relations between learning and context).

This essay focuses on debates within the philosophy of science between varieties of realism. There is a set of basic questions related to this debate which, explicitly or implicitly, have been dealt with in some way or another within every branch of science. The issue investigated here concern implications of two variants of realism for how processes of scientific knowledge production should be conducted. 

In part 1, these philosophical issues are placed within the context of the empirical research field of science, technology and innovation (STI) studies. In part 2 and 3, two variants of realism, belonging to two philosophical perspectives, are discussed, taking the point of departure in a shared common ground. Each perspective is accounted for, endeavouring to bring out; i) their basic principles and, through them, their critique of the other perspective; and ii) some of the implications of the basic principles for how social scientific knowledge should be produced. In part 4, the essay is rounded off.

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