There are three domains—just not exactly Bhaskar’s

There has been a series of blog posts on the Critical Realist Network site regarding the necessity of Bhaskar’s three ontological domains (the real, the actual, and the empirical). The first post, “Let’s stop talking about the three domains of reality” by Tom Fryer and Cristián Navarrete, contends that they’re confusing, redundant, and ultimately entirely unnecessary since everything is real. In response, Dave Elder-Vass wrote “Maybe two parts of reality instead of three?“, in which he retains the real/actual distinction but absorbs the empirical into the actual as just one among many events. I’ve replied with “There are three domains—just not exactly Bhaskar’s,” arguing that we need all three domains but Bhaskar’s empirical domain must be transformed into the semiosic domain (a position I first took in my critical realist article, and have drummed for ever since). The page contains a link to a PDF version.

UPDATE: The four posts constituting the discussion (Tom & Cristián’s, Dave’s, mine, and then one by Ruth Groff, “There Aren’t Really Three Domains: or, Metaphor Is Great, Except When It’s Not“) will be published as an article in the Journal of Critical Realism. I will announce when that happens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *