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Critical realism

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Realism assumes the past is knowable, there are fundamental certainties of the world that remain unchanged by human mind and perception so that critical realism (originally called transcendental realism) employs a method (historical or scientific) to allow the obtaining of knowledge about the past.[1] Critical realism sees two independent worlds, namely the outside world and the inside world or what is actual reality and the mental constructs to represent that actual reality. In principle however there can be substantive accuracy derived from reality. Critical Realists accept arguments put forth from skeptics that the human minds perception is influenced or colored by the culture it develops in but would not go so far as to say that all knowledge claims have no value. Because critical realism is a philosophy it provides an intellectual framework to question how to obtain authoritative knowledge and is then considered an epistemology. Critical realism views the past as knowable within a spectrum of certainty that is arrived at by a methodology of investigation that looks at evidences and hypotheses.[1]


Critical realism is a movement in philosophy and the human sciences starting from Roy Bhaskar’s writings. It claims that causal laws state the tendencies of things grounded in their structures, not invariable conjunctions, which are rare outside experiments. Therefore, positivist accounts of science are wrong, but so is the refusal to explain the human world causally. Critical realism holds that there is more to ‘what is’ than ‘what is known’, more to powers than their use, and more to society than the individuals composing it. It rejects the widespread view that explanation is always neutral - to explain can be to criticize.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, pg. 107. By Michael R. Licona, IVP Academic, 2010.
  2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, entry for the word: "critical realism"

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