Can the Pessimistic Induction be Saved from Semantic Anti-Realism about Scientific Theory?

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
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 science, anti-realists included, consider anathema today. Therefore, proponents of the PI confront a dilemma: either accept semantic anti-realism or reject common semantic views. I examine strategies (with particular emphasis on supervaluations) for the PI proponent to either lessen the sting of this argument, or learn to live with it. 1 Introduction2 Designation Failure 2.1 Designation failure leads to truth-valueless sentences2.1.1 Direct reference theory2.1.2 Fregeanism2.1.3 Accounts of reference-fixing: why ‘phlogiston’ fails to designate 2.2 Objection: sentences exhibiting designation failure are false not truth-valueless 2.3 Avoiding truth-valuelessness via controversial semantic positions3 What to do? Closing the Gaps4 Conclusion.
Keywords
No keywords specified (fix it)
Reprint years
2014
PhilPapers/Archive ID
FROCTP
Revision history
Archival date: 2016-02-13
View upload history
References found in this work BETA
Semantics in Generative Grammar.Heim, Irene & Kratzer, Angelika

View all 58 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2013-08-03

Total views
222 ( #16,043 of 43,724 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
17 ( #32,782 of 43,724 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.