A scientific-realist account of common sense

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There are good reasons to endorse scientific realism and good reasons to endorse common-sense realism. However, it has sometimes been suggested that there is a tension between the two which makes it difficult to endorse both. Can the common-sense picture of the world be reconciled with the strikingly different picture presented to us by our best confirmed theories of science? This chapter critically examines proposals for doing so, and it offers a new one, which is essentially this. It is a psychological fact that we have certain common-sense beliefs. In the framework of reductive physicalism, all beliefs, including the common-sense ones, are nothing but brain states and processes. Being scientifically realist about these brain states and accepting the reductive-physicalist view of the mind, we can account for the psychological fact that we have certain common-sense beliefs with certain contents, without committing to the idea that the contents of these common-sense beliefs have to be true of the world. In this coherentist approach we are not required to relinquish our common-sense beliefs, since although they are false according to science, this very same science shows that holding those beliefs is fully rational.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Common-Sense Philosophy
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781108598163
ISBN (Print)9781108476003
StatePublished - 19 Nov 2020


  • Coherentism
  • Naturalism
  • Realism
  • Reduction
  • Scientific realism

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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