Every Thing Must Go

The Institute of Art and Ideas


Important information

  • Course
  • Online
  • When:

Substance, essence, being- for centuries philosophers and scientists have tried to get to the heart of constitute the ‘things’ that make up the universe, from kitchen tables to subatomic particles. In this course, James Ladyman, Professor in the Philosophy of Science, gives his unique account of scientific realism, the belief that science addresses the ‘big questions’ of philosophy, and argues that there is no fundamental level of reality that describes the world.

In this course, you will learn:

The arguments for and against Scientific realism and anti-realism.
How our idea of science develops through radical theory change.
How we reconcile our ‘manifest’ reality to our scientific understanding.
What philosophy does that science cannot replace.
Why our understanding of reality is complicated by different ‘scales of being’.
Why there may be no ultimate reality.
Why relations between objects, not ‘substances’ might be what is most essential about the world.
How we might adopt a ‘promiscuous realism’.

Important information

Where and when

Starts Location

What you'll learn on the course

Contemporary Science
Scientific knowledge
Scales of being

Course programme

Course Syllabus
  • Part One: Introducing Anti-RealismMust philosophy adhere to contemporary science? Does Metaphysics need objects and causation?
  • Part Two: Questioning the AtomAre atoms real? Ladyman illustrates why in science and philosophy, objects are no longer required.

Suggested Further Readings

A selection of further readings has been suggested by Professor Ladyman as part of this course.

Explore Further

Our editors have brought together a range of content from across IAI.tv which explore the ideas in this course.

About the Instructor
  • James Ladyman

    James Ladyman is Professor of the Philosophy of Science at the University of Bristol and Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of York. He has worked extensively in scientific realism, constructive empiricism and structural realism. In 1998 he made the the distinction between epistemic and ontic forms of structural realism and has defended the latter since.

    Professor Ladyman was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Philosophy and Ethics in 2005 was awarded the American Library Association’s Outstanding Academic Text Award. He has been the editor of the The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science and Honorary Secretary of The British Society for the Philosophy of Science. He is the author of Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized, Understanding the Philosophy of Science and Arguing About Science.