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Cartwright on Fundamentalism

Unmasking the Enemy

Steve Clarke

Nancy Cartwright has a reputation as an opponent of realism, a reputation which is based on her notorious claim that the way in which the fundamental laws of physics are used in explanation argues for their falsehood (Cartwright 1983). In a recent paper, Cartwright has made it clear that she no longer sees the principal arguments in the book in which she presented that claim, How the Laws of Physics Lie (henceforth How the Laws) as objections to realism itself, but as objections to a doctrine that she understands to be a common fellow-traveller with realism, which she refers to as fundamentalism.