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Theoretical Reflections

There Aren’t Really Three Domains: or, Metaphor Is Great, Except When It’s Not

One big problem with metaphors is that a certain type of reader – of which there seems to be no shortage – is tempted to reify them. Tom and Cristián object to Roy’s metaphor partly on the grounds that it’s redundant. I don’t disagree with them, but I think that the objection is not pointed enough.

There are three domains—just not exactly Bhaskar’s

In a recent post, Tom Fryer and Cristián Navarrete (2022) argued that “domains” talk is
confusing and redundant. In response, Dave Elder-Vass contends that we should absorb the domain of the empirical into the domain of the
actual, but keep the distinction between the real and the actual. I will argue instead that there are
considerable reasons to preserve both the concept of domains and a third ontological domain.

Maybe two parts of reality instead of three?

Roy Bhaskar’s three domains of reality – the empirical, the actual and the real – are staples of many expositions of critical realism. In their provocative blog post, Tom Fryer and Cristián Navarrete (2022) argue that we should stop using them because they are redundant and confusing. This post engages constructively with their argument.