On being a ‘real’ geomorphologist

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In a recent editorial Richards (1990) advocated a realist perspective for geomorphology. Scientific realism, defined broadly, is the doctrine that science attempts to generate true knowledge of the observable and unobservable (i.e. non‐empirical) aspects of an objective world. Various brands of realism exist; the particular version cited by Richards (1990) has not strongly influenced mainstream philosophy of science. Also, critical rationalism, which Richards (1990) contrasts with realism, fully adopts a realist perspective. In its broadest sense, realism encompasses the entire spectrum of geomorpho‐logic research, thus providing a unifying philosophical framework for geomorphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-272
Number of pages4
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1994


  • Geomorphology
  • Philosophy
  • Realism
  • Scientific method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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