Scientific Realism without Rigid Designation in Kant's Analogies

Kant E-Prints 11 (2):70-89 (2016)
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In Kant, Science, and Human Nature, Robert Hanna argues against a version of scientific realism founded on the Kripke/Putnam theory of reference, and defends a Kant-inspired manifest realism in its place. I reject Kriple/Putnam for different reasons than Hanna does, and argue that what should replace it is not manifest realism, but Kant‘s own scientific realism, which rests on a radically different theory of reference. Kant holds that we picture manifest objects by uniting manifolds of sensation using concepts-qua-inferential-rules. When these rules are demonstrated to be invalid, we replace the picture of the macroscopic world with a picture of the microscopic entities of theoretical science that unites the very same manifolds using different rules of inference. Thus, we refer to "unobservable" theoretical entities in the same way that we do manifest ones: by specifying both their determinate location in space and time and the concepts by which they are understood.
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