Tarski's Nominalism

In Douglas Patterson (ed.), New Essays on Tarski and Philosophy. Oxford University Press (2008)
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Alfred Tarski was a nominalist. But he published almost nothing on his nominalist views, and until recently the only sources scholars had for studying Tarski’s nominalism were conversational reports from his friends and colleagues. However, a recently-discovered archival resource provides the most detailed information yet about Tarski’s nominalism. Tarski spent the academic year 1940-41 at Harvard, along with many of the leading lights of scientific philosophy: Carnap, Quine, Hempel, Goodman, and (for the fall semester) Russell. This group met frequently to discuss logical and philosophical topics of shared interest. At these meetings, Carnap took dictation notes, which are now stored in the Archives of Scientific Philosophy. Interestingly, and somewhat surprisingly, the plurality of notes covers a proposal Tarski presents for a nominalist language of unified science. This chapter addresses the following questions about this project. What, precisely, is Tarski’s nominalist position? What rationales are given for Tarski’s nominalist stance—and are these rationales defensible? Finally, how is Tarskian nominalism of 1941 related to current nominalist projects?
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