Also found in: Wikipedia.
scientific realism(PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE) the assumption (Bhaskar, 1975, 1979), that a ‘real world’ exists independently of our senses, and that the objects of scientific thought are ‘real structures, irreducible to the events they generate’ (see also EXPLANATORY MECHANISM; compare REALISM). In presenting this as a new TRANSCENDENTAL ARGUMENT, Bhaskar has had considerable influence on methodological thinking in modern sociology, especially in providing support for 'structural explanations’ and in combatting EMPIRICISM. What is not clear, however, is whether scientific realism carries quite the specific implications suggested by Bhaskar (e.g. support for MARX against WEBER or DURKHEIM).
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000