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The ontology of a theory

Cocco, Lorenzo (2020) The ontology of a theory. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This paper defends two claims about the criterion of commitment of W.V.O Quine. The first claim is that the criterion can be made extensional. The second is that a proper formulation becomes an analytic truth. We spend a few preliminary sections clarifying our intended notion of ontological commitment. We will not go very far in our investigation of the criterion if we do not distinguish (1) the things a theory postulates, (2) what its adherents, or anybody else, believe in, and (3) which of these entities we have compelling reasons to accept. A look at [Quine 1953] shows that the criterion concerned the postulation of entities by theories, but it is often misread as an attempt to say something about either (2) or (3). The core of the paper is an exposition of two formulations of the criterion. I first state a schema improving on that of [Scheffler and Chomsky 1959]. The second formulation is a single principle and construes commitment as a relation between theories and predicates: ontological commitment to the entities that satisfy a given predicate. Both criteria are extensional and are formulated for constructional systems, in the sense of [Carnap 1928] and [Goodman 1951], rather than for theories construed as interpreted sets of sentences. This solves a problem raised by [Halvorson 2019]. Their analyticity is substantiated by showing that their most controversial consequences are instances of Tarski’s Convention (T).


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Cocco, Lorenzolorenzo.cocco@unige.ch
Keywords: Ontology; ontological commitment; regimentation program; constructional systems; extensionalism; postulation;
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > Ontology
General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Depositing User: Mr. Lorenzo Cocco
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2020 20:53
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2020 20:53
Item ID: 18411
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > Ontology
General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Date: 15 November 2020
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18411

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