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How and How Not to Be Whiggish About 'Phlogiston'

Hricko, Jonathon (2016) How and How Not to Be Whiggish About 'Phlogiston'. In: UNSPECIFIED.

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Abstract

Understanding the semantics of theoretical terms from past science involves determining what, if anything, they referred to. Some ways of assigning referents to such terms are Whiggish, in the sense that they introduce anachronisms that distort the past, while others are not. My aim in this paper is to develop a non-Whiggish semantic theory, one that avoids Whiggish reference assignments. In order to do so, I make use of the example of 'phlogiston.' I argue that it would be Whiggish to maintain that 'phlogiston' sometimes referred to free electrons, but not Whiggish to maintain that it sometimes referred to hydrogen. And I argue that we can avoid Whiggish reference assignments by focusing on the operations that scientists perform. On the theory I defend, theoretical terms refer by means of the operations scientists use to identity their putative referents.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Hricko, Jonathonjonathon.hricko@gmail.com
Keywords: Reference, Theoretical Terms, Whig History, Anachronism, Operations, Phlogiston
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Operationalism/Instrumentalism
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Jonathon Hricko
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2016 03:54
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2016 03:54
Item ID: 12212
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Operationalism/Instrumentalism
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 20 June 2016
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12212

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