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  1. Role-Player Realism.Paul Teller - 2016
    In practice theoretical terms are open-ended in not being attached to anything completely specific. This raises a problem for scientific realism: If there is no one completely specific kind of thing that might be in the extension of “atom”, what is it to claim that atoms exist? A realist’s solution is to say that in theoretical contexts of mature atom-theories there are things that play the role of atoms as characterized in that theory-context. The paper closes with a laundry list (...)
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  2. Race and Reference.Adam Hochman - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (2):32.
    The biological race debate is at an impasse. Issues surrounding hereditarianism aside, there is little empirical disagreement left between race naturalists and anti-realists about biological race. The disagreement is now primarily semantic. This would seem to uniquely qualify philosophers to contribute to the biological race debate. However, philosophers of race are reluctant to focus on semantics, largely because of their worries about the ‘flight to reference’. In this paper, I show how philosophers can contribute to the debate without taking the (...)
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  3. Realism, Progress and the Historical Turn.Howard Sankey - 2017 - Foundations of Science 22 (1):201-214.
    The contemporary debate between scientific realism and anti-realism is conditioned by a polarity between two opposing arguments: the realist’s success argument and the anti-realist’s pessimistic induction. This polarity has skewed the debate away from the problem that lies at the source of the debate. From a realist point of view, the historical approach to the philosophy of science which came to the fore in the 1960s gave rise to an unsatisfactory conception of scientific progress. One of the main motivations for (...)
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  4. Meta-Incommensurability Between Theories of Meaning: Chemical Evidence.Nicholas W. Best - 2015 - Perspectives on Science 23 (3):361-378.
    Attempting to compare scientific theories requires a philosophical model of meaning. Yet different scientific theories have at times—particularly in early chemistry—pre-supposed disparate theories of meaning. When two theories of meaning are incommensurable, we must say that the scientific theories that rely upon them are meta-incommensurable. Meta- incommensurability is a more profound sceptical threat to science since, unlike first-order incommensurability, it implies complete incomparability.
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  5. Can the Pessimistic Induction Be Saved From Semantic Anti-Realism About Scientific Theory?Greg Frost-Arnold - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (3):521-548.
    Scientific anti-realists who appeal to the pessimistic induction (PI) claim that the theoretical terms of past scientific theories often fail to refer to anything. But on standard views in philosophy of language, such reference failures prima facie lead to certain sentences being neither true nor false. Thus, if these standard views are correct, then the conclusion of the PI should be that significant chunks of current theories are truth-valueless. But that is semantic anti-realism about scientific discourse—a position most philosophers of (...)
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  6. Reference, Truth, and Biological Kinds.Marcel Weber - 2014 - In: J. Dutant, D. Fassio and A. Meylan (Eds.) Liber Amicorum Pascal Engel.
    This paper examines causal theories of reference with respect to how plausible an account they give of non-physical natural kind terms such as ‘gene’ as well as of the truth of the associated theoretical claims. I first show that reference fixism for ‘gene’ fails. By this, I mean the claim that the reference of ‘gene’ was stable over longer historical periods, for example, since the classical period of transmission genetics. Second, I show that the theory of partial reference does not (...)
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  7. Reference, Success and Entity Realism.Howard Sankey - 2012 - Kairos. Revista de Filosofia and Ciência 5:31-42.
    The paper discusses the version of entity realism presented by Ian Hacking in his book, Representing and Intervening. Hacking holds that an ontological form of scientific realism, entity realism, may be defended on the basis of experimental practices which involve the manipulation of unobservable entities. There is much to be said in favour of the entity realist position that Hacking defends, especially the pragmatist orientation of his approach to realism. But there are problems with the position. The paper explores two (...)
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  8. Tracking Referents in Electronic Health Records.Werner Ceusters & Barry Smith - 2005 - Studies in Health Technology and Informatics 116:71–76.
    Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are organized around two kinds of statements: those reporting observations made, and those reporting acts performed. In neither case does the record involve any direct reference to what such statements are actually about. They record not: what is happening on the side of the patient, but rather: what is said about what is happening. While the need for a unique patient identifier is generally recognized, we argue that we should now move to an EHR regime in (...)
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  9. Semantic Flexibility in Scientific Practice: A Study of Newton's Optics.Michael Bishop - 1999 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 32 (3):210 - 232.
    Semantic essentialism holds that any scientific term that appears in a well-confirmed scientific theory has a fixed kernel of meaning. Semantic essentialism cannot make sense of the strategies scientists use to argue for their views. Newton's central optical expression "light ray" suggests a context-sensitive view of scientific language. On different occasions, Newton's expression could refer to different things depending on his particular argumentative goals - a visible beam, an irreducibly smallest section of propagating light, or a traveling particle of light. (...)
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  10. The Flight to Reference, or How Not to Make Progress in the Philosophy of Science.Michael A. Bishop & Stephen P. Stich - 1998 - Philosophy of Science 65 (1):33-49.
    The flight to reference is a widely-used strategy for resolving philosophical issues. The three steps in a flight to reference argument are: (1) offer a substantive account of the reference relation, (2) argue that a particular expression refers (or does not refer), and (3) draw a philosophical conclusion about something other than reference, like truth or ontology. It is our contention that whenever the flight to reference strategy is invoked, there is a crucial step that is left undefended, and that (...)
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