Perspective realism

Form of realism holding that the nature of an object depends on its relations to other objects.

For example, a penny not only looks round from one perspective and elliptical from another but is round with respect to one and elliptical with respect to the other, no perspective having any special privilege.

This enables us to say that the penny is seen as it is, because how it appears from a certain perspective is part of how it is.

E B McGilvary, Toward a Perspective Realism (1956)

In Caspar Hare’s theory of perspectival realism,[1] there is a defining intrinsic property that the things that are in perceptual awareness have. Consider seeing object A but not object B. Of course, we can say that the visual experience of A is present to you, and no visual experience of B is present to you. But, it can be argued, this misses the fact that the visual experience of A is simply present, not relative to anything. This is what Hare’s perspectival realism attempts to capture, resulting in a weak version of metaphysical solipsism.

As Hare points out, the same type of argument is often used in the philosophy of time to support theories such as presentism. Of course, we can say that A is happening on [insert today’s date]. But, it can be argued, this misses the fact that A is simply happening (right now), not relative to anything.

Hare’s theory of perspectival realism is closely related to his theory of egocentric presentism.[2][3] Several other philosophers have written reviews of Hare’s work on this topic.

2 thoughts on “Perspective realism

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