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Realism, Reference and Perspective

Hoefer, Carl and Martí, Genoveva (2020) Realism, Reference and Perspective. [Preprint]


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This paper continues the defense of a version of scientific realism, Tautological Scientific Realism (TSR), that rests on the claim that, excluding some areas of fundamental physics about which doubts are entirely justified, many areas of contemporary science cannot be coherently imagined to be false other than via postulation of radically skeptical scenarios, which are not relevant to the realism debate in philosophy of science. In this paper we discuss, specifically, the threats of meaning change and reference failure associated with the Kuhnian tradition, which depend on a descriptivist approach to meaning, and we argue that descriptivism is not the right account of the meaning and reference of theoretical terms. We suggest that an account along the lines of the causal-historical theory of reference provides a more faithful picture of how terms for unobservable theoretical entities and properties come to refer; we argue that this picture works particularly well for TSR. In the last section we discuss how our account raises concerns specifically for perspectival forms of SR.

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Item Type: Preprint
Hoefer, Carlcarl.hoefer@ub.edu0000-0002-8020-4630
Additional Information: Accepted for publication in European Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Keywords: realism; scientific realism; reference; theoretical entities; unobservable entities; reference to unobservable entities; descriptivism; direct reference; causal-historical account of reference; holism; anti-realism
Subjects: General Issues > Natural Kinds
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Depositing User: Carl Hoefer
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2020 03:26
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2020 03:26
Item ID: 17288
Subjects: General Issues > Natural Kinds
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Date: 2020

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