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Summary The idea of a Ramsey sentence derives from a proposal of Frank Plumpton Ramsey (1903-1930).  Ramsey proposed that theoretical terms may be eliminated from a theory by means of an existentially quantified sentence containing only observational terms.  Such a Ramsey sentence retains the empirical content of the theory without the use of theoretical terms.  The idea was later developed in the context of logical empiricism, for example by C.G. Hempel.  David Lewis employed Ramsey sentences in his account of theoretical terms.  Lewis's account has significant application in the philosophy of mind.  Ramsey sentences play an important role in the literature on the reference of theoretical terms, as well as in discussion of the position of structural realism.
Key works Ramsey's original proposal may be found in his paper, 'Theories', in D. H. Mellor (ed.) F.P. Ramsey Philosophical Papers Ramsey 1990.  For Hempel, see 'The Theoretician's Dilemma' Hempel 1958.  Lewis presents his version of the Ramsey sentence approach in his paper, 'How to Define Theoretical Terms' Lewis 1970.  Refined Ramsey-style approaches continue to play a role in the discussion of theoretical terms.  See, for example, David Papineau 'Theory-dependent Terms' Papineau 1996.  For the connection with structural realism, see Cruse 2005.
Introductions Bohnert 1967; and chapter three of Psillos 1999
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  1. Peter M. Ainsworth (2009). Newman's Objection. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (1):135-171.
    This paper is a review of work on Newman's objection to epistemic structural realism (ESR). In Section 2, a brief statement of ESR is provided. In Section 3, Newman's objection and its recent variants are outlined. In Section 4, two responses that argue that the objection can be evaded by abandoning the Ramsey-sentence approach to ESR are considered. In Section 5, three responses that have been put forward specifically to rescue the Ramsey-sentence approach to ESR from the modern versions of (...)
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  2. Yann Benétreau-Dupin (2011). An Empiricist Criterion of Meaning. South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (2):95-108.
    The meaning of scientific propositions is not always expressible in terms of observable phenomena. Such propositions involve generalizations, and also terms that are theoretical constructs. I study here how to assess the meaning of scientific propositions, that is, the specific import of theoretical terms. Empiricists have expressed a concern that scientific propositions, and theoretical terms, should always be, to some degree, related to observable consequences. We can see that the former empiricist criterion of meaning only implies for theoretical terms not (...)
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  3. Herbert G. Bohnert (1974). The Logico-Linguistic Mind-Brain Problem and a Proposed Step Towards its Solution. Philosophy of Science 41 (March):1-14.
    This paper argues that if a person's beliefs are idealized as a set of sentences (theoretical, observational, and mixed) then the device of Ramsey sentences provides a treatment, of the mind-brain problem, that has at least four noteworthy characteristics. First, sentences asserting correlations between one's own brain state and one's own "private" experiences are, on such treatment, reconstrued as neither causal, coreferential, nor as meaning postulates, but as clauses in an overall hypothesis (Ramsey sentence) whose only nonlogical constants have "private" (...)
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  4. Herbert G. Bohnert (1967). Communication by Ramsey-Sentence Clause. Philosophy of Science 34 (4):341-347.
    F. P. Ramsey pointed out in Theories that the observational content of a theory expressed partly in non-observational terms is retained in the sentence resulting from existentially generalizing the conjunction of all sentences of the theory with respect to all nonobservational terms. Such terms are thus avoidable in principle, but only at the cost of forming a single "monolithic" sentence. This paper suggests that communication may be thought of as occurring not only by sentence but by clause, a sentential formula (...)
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  5. David Braddon-Mitchell & Robert Nola (1997). Ramsification and Glymour’s Counterexample. Analysis 57 (3):167–169.
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  6. Angelo Cei & Steven French (2006). Looking for Structure in All the Wrong Places: Ramsey Sentences, Multiple Realisability, and Structure. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (4):633-655.
    ‘Epistemic structural realism’ (ESR) insists that all that we know of the world is its structure, and that the ‘nature’ of the underlying elements remains hidden. With structure represented via Ramsey sentences, the question arises as to how ‘hidden natures’ might also be represented. If the Ramsey sentence describes a class of realisers for the relevant theory, one way of answering this question is through the notion of multiple realisability. We explore this answer in the context of the work of (...)
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  7. Marc Champagne (2012). Russell and the Newman Problem Revisited. Analysis and Metaphysics 11:65 - 74.
    In his 1927 Analysis of Matter and elsewhere, Russell argued that we can successfully infer the structure of the external world from that of our explanatory schemes. While nothing guarantees that the intrinsic qualities of experiences are shared by their objects, he held that the relations tying together those relata perforce mirror relations that actually obtain (these being expressible in the formal idiom of the Principia Mathematica). This claim was subsequently criticized by the Cambridge mathematician Max Newman as true but (...)
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  8. Wesley Cooper (1999). Pragmatism and Radical Empiricism. Inquiry 42 (3 & 4):371 – 383.
    A rational reconstruction of James's doctrine of pure experience is attempted, showing how it can be formulated in terms of a Ramsey sentence so that its credibility is comparable to contemporary functionalism about the mind. Whereas functionalism treats only mental predicates as theoretical terms and quantifies over physical objects, Jamesian 'global-functionalism' treats both mental and physical predicates as theoretical terms and quantifies over pure experience. Rehabilitated in this way, the doctrine of pure experience is a fit partner for Jamesian <span (...)
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  9. James W. Cornman (1972). Craig's Theorem, Ramsey-Sentences, and Scientific Instrumentalism. Synthese 25 (1-2):82 - 128.
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  10. Pierre Cruse (2005). Ramsey Sentences, Structural Realism and Trivial Realization. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (3):557-576.
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  11. Pierre Cruse (2004). Scientific Realism, Ramsey Sentences and the Reference of Theoretical Terms. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (2 & 3):133 – 149.
    It is often thought that questions of reference are crucial in assessing scientific realism, construed as the view that successful theories are at least approximately true descriptions of the unobservable; realism is justified only if terms in empirically successful theories generally refer to genuinely existing entities or properties. In this paper this view is questioned. First, it is argued that there are good reasons to think that questions of realism are largely decided by convention and carry no epistemic significance. An (...)
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  12. W. Demopoulos (2011). Three Views of Theoretical Knowledge. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (1):177-205.
    Of the three views of theoretical knowledge which form the focus of this article, the first has its source in the work of Russell, the second in Ramsey, and the third in Carnap. Although very different, all three views subscribe to a principle I formulate as ‘the structuralist thesis’; they are also naturally expressed using the concept of a Ramsey sentence. I distinguish the framework of assumptions which give rise to the structuralist thesis from an unproblematic emphasis on the importance (...)
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  13. J. K. Derden Jr (1976). Carnap's Definition of 'Analytic Truth' for Scientific Theories. Philosophy of Science 43 (4):506-522.
    In this paper Rudolf Carnap's definition of 'analytic truth' based upon a meaning postulate At, for theoretical predicates of a given scientific theory is subjected to critique. It is argued that this definition is both too exclusive and too inclusive. Assuming that the preceding is correct, At is subjected to further scrutiny to determine how to interpret it and whether, and under what conditions, it need even be true. It is argued that a given At need not be true as (...)
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  14. Michael Friedman (2011). Carnap on Theoretical Terms: Structuralism Without Metaphysics. [REVIEW] Synthese 180 (2):249 - 263.
    Both realists and instrumentalists have found it difficult to understand (much less accept) Carnap's developed view on theoretical terms, which attempts to stake out a neutral position between realism and instrumentalism. I argue that Carnap's mature conception of a scientific theory as the conjunction of its Ramsey sentence and Carnap sentence can indeed achieve this neutral position. To see this, however, we need to see why the Newman problem raised in the context of recent work on structural realism is no (...)
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  15. Ulrich Gähde (2002). Holism, Underdetermination, and the Dynamics of Empirical Theories. Synthese 130 (1):69 - 90.
    The goal of this article is to show that the structuralist approachprovides a powerful framework for the analysis of certain holistic phenomena in empirical theories.We focus on two aspects of holism. The first refers to the involvement of comprehensive complexes of hypothesesin the theoretical treatment of systems regarded in isolation. By contrast, the second refers to thecorrelation between the theoretical descriptions of different systems. It is demonstrated how these two aspectscan be analysed by making use of the structuralist notion of (...)
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  16. Herbert E. Hendry (1975). Ramsey Sentences for Infinite Theories. Philosophy of Science 42 (1):28.
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  17. Jaakko Hintikka (1998). Ramsey Sentences and the Meaning of Quantifiers. Philosophy of Science 65 (2):289-305.
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  18. Frank Jackson (2005). Ramsey Sentences and Avoiding the Sui Generis. In Hallvard Lillehammer & D.H. Mellor (eds.), Ramsey's Legacy (Mind Association Occasional Series). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
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  19. Jeffrey Ketland (2004). Empirical Adequacy and Ramsification. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):287-300.
    Structural realism has been proposed as an epistemological position interpolating between realism and sceptical anti-realism about scientific theories. The structural realist who accepts a scientific theory thinks that is empirically correct, and furthermore is a realist about the ‘structural content’ of . But what exactly is ‘structural content’? One proposal is that the ‘structural content’ of a scientific theory may be associated with its Ramsey sentence (). However, Demopoulos and Friedman have argued, using ideas drawn from Newman's earlier criticism of (...)
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  20. Jeffrey Ketland (2004). Empirical Adequacy and Ramsification. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):287-300.
    Structural realism has been proposed as an epistemological position interpolating between realism and sceptical anti-realism about scientific theories. The structural realist who accepts a scientific theory Theta thinks that Theta is empirically correct, and furthermore is a realist about the ‘structural content’ of Theta. But what exactly is ‘structural content’? One proposal is that the ‘structural content’ of a scientific theory may be associated with its Ramsey sentence R(Theta). However, Demopoulos and Friedman argued, using ideas drawn from Newman’s earlier criticism (...)
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  21. Arnold Koslow (2006). The Representational Inadequacy of Ramsey Sentences. Theoria 72 (2):100-125.
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  22. Uriah Kriegel (forthcoming). The Character of Cognitive Phenomenology. In T. Breyer & C. Gutland (eds.), Phenomenology of Thinking. Routledge.
    Recent discussions of phenomenal consciousness have taken increased interest in the existence and scope of non-sensory types of phenomenology, notably so-called cognitive phenomenology. These discussions have been largely restricted, however, to the question of the existence of such a phenomenology. Little attention has been given to the character of cognitive phenomenology: what in fact is it like to engage in conscious cognitive activity? This paper offers an approach to this question. Focusing on the prototypical cognitive activity of making a judgment (...)
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  23. James Ladyman, Structural Realism.
    Structural realism is considered by many realists and antirealists alike as the most defensible form of scientific realism. There are now many forms of structural realism and an extensive literature about them. There are interesting connections with debates in metaphysics, philosophy of physics and philosophy of mathematics. This entry is intended to be a comprehensive survey of the field.
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  24. David Lewis (2009). Ramseyan Humility. In David Braddon-Mitchell & Robert Nola (eds.), Conceptual Analysis and Philosophical Naturalism. Mit Press. 203-222.
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  25. David Lewis (1972). Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 50 (December):249-58.
  26. David Lewis (1970). How to Define Theoretical Terms. Journal of Philosophy 67 (13):427-446.
  27. Hallvard Lillehammer & D. H. Mellor (eds.) (2005). Ramsey's Legacy. Oxford University Press.
    The Cambridge philosopher Frank Ramsey died tragically in 1930 at the age of 26, but had already established himself as one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century. Besides groundbreaking work in philosophy, particularly in logic, language, and metaphysics, he created modern decision theory and made substantial contributions to mathematics and economics. In these original essays, written to commemorate the centenary of Ramsey's birth, a distinguished international team of contributors offer fresh perspectives on his work and show its (...)
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  28. Sebastian Lutz, Criteria of Empirical Significance: A Success Story.
    The sheer multitude of criteria of empirical significance has been taken as evidence that the pre-analytic notion being explicated is too vague to be useful. I show instead that a significant number of these criteria—by Ayer, Popper, Przełęcki, Suppes, and David Lewis, among others—not only form a coherent whole, but also connect directly to the theory of definition, the notion of empirical content as explicated by Ramsey sentences, and the theory of measurement; two criteria by Carnap and Sober are trivial, (...)
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  29. Sebastian Lutz, Choosing the Analytic Component of Theories.
    I provide a compact reformulation of Carnap’s conditions of adequacy for the analytic and the synthetic component of a theory and show that, contrary to arguments by Winnie and Demopoulos, Carnap’s conditions of adequacy need not be supplemented by another condition. This has immediate implications for the analytic component of reduction sentences.
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  30. Sebastian Lutz, The Semantics of Scientific Theories.
    Marian Przełęcki’s semantics for the Received View is a good explication of Carnap’s position on the subject, anticipates many discussions and results from both proponents and opponents of the Received View, and can be the basis for a thriving research program.
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  31. R. M. Martin (1966). On Theoretical Constructs and Ramsey Constants. Philosophy of Science 33 (1/2):1-13.
    The method of Ramsey sentences has been proposed for handling theoretical constructs within a scientific system. Essentially it consists of constructing a certain "monolithic" sentence for an entire theory. In this present paper several improvements are suggested which help to overcome some of the awkward features of the method. In particular we have here many Ramsey sentences rather than just one, each erstwhile primitive theoretical term giving rise to a Ramsey sentence. Such a sentence in effect defines what we call (...)
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  32. Mark McCullagh (2000). Functionalism and Self-Consciousness. Mind and Language 15 (5):481-499.
    I offer a philosophically well-motivated solution to a problem that George Bealer has identified, which he claims is fatal to functionalism. The problem is that there seems to be no way to generate a satisfactory Ramsey sentence of a psychological theory in which mental-state predicates occur within the scopes of mental-state predicates. My central claim is that the functional roles in terms of which a creature capable of self-consciousness identifies her own mental states must be roles that items could play (...)
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  33. Mark Newman (2005). Ramsey Sentence Realism as an Answer to the Pessimistic Meta-Induction. Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1373-1384.
    John Worrall recently provided an account of epistemic structural realism, which explains the success of science by arguing for the correct mathematical structure of our theories. He accounts for the historical failures of science by pointing to bloated ontological interpretations of theoretical terms. In this paper I argue that Worrall’s account suffers from five serious problems. I also show that Pierre Cruse and David Papineau have developed a rival structural realism that solves all of the problems faced by Worrall. This (...)
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  34. John O'Leary-Hawthorne (1994). A Corrective to the Ramsey-Lewis Account of Theoretical Terms. Analysis 54 (2):105 - 110.
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  35. David Papineau (2010). Realism, Ramsey Sentences and the Pessimistic Meta-Induction. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4):375-385.
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  36. David Papineau (1996). Theory-Dependent Terms. Philosophy of Science 63 (1):1-20.
    The main puzzle about theoretical definitions is that nothing seems to decide which assumptions contribute to such definitions and which do not. I argue that theoretical definitions are indeed imprecise, but that this does not normally matter, since the definitional imprecision does not normally produce indeterminacy of referential value. Sometimes, however, the definitional imprecision is less benign, and does generate referential indeterminacy. In these special cases, but not otherwise, it is necessary to refine the term's definition.
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  37. Stathis Psillos, Ramsey's Ramsey-Sentences.
    In the present paper I want to do two things. First, I want to discuss Ramsey’s own views of Ramsey-sentences. This, it seems to me, is an important issue not just (or mainly) because of its historical interest. It has a deep philosophical significance. Addressing it will enable us to see what Ramsey’s lasting contribution in the philosophy of science was as well as what its relevance to today’s problems is. Since the 1950s, where the interest in Ramsey’s views has (...)
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  38. Stathis Psillos (2000). Carnap, the Ramsey-Sentence and Realistic Empiricism. Erkenntnis 52 (2):253-279.
    Based on archival material from the Carnap and FeiglArchives, this paper re-examines Carnap's approach tothe issue of scientific realism in the 1950s and theearly 1960s. It focuses on Carnap's re-invention ofthe Ramsey-sentence approach to scientific theoriesand argues that Carnap wanted to entertain a genuineneutral stance in the realism-instrumentalism debate.Following Grover Maxwell, it claims that Carnap'sposition may be best understood as a version of`structural realism'. However, thus understood,Carnap's position faces the challenge that Newmanraised against Russell's structuralism: the claim thatthe knowledge of (...)
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  39. Panu Raatikainen (2012). Ramsification and Inductive Inference. Synthese 187 (2):569-577.
    An argument, different from the Newman objection, against the view that the cognitive content of a theory is exhausted by its Ramsey sentence is reviewed. The crux of the argument is that Ramsification may ruin inductive systematization between theory and observation. The argument also has some implications concerning the issue of underdetermination.
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  40. Jack Ritchie (2008). Structural Realism and Davidson. Synthese 162 (1):85 - 100.
    Structural realism is an attempt to balance the competing demands of the No Miracles Argument and the Pessimistic Meta-Induction. In this paper I trace the development of the structuralist idea through the work of one of its leading advocates, John Worrall. I suggest that properly thought through what the structuralist is offering or should be offering is not an account of how to divide up a theory into two parts—structure and ontology—but (perhaps surprisingly) a certain kind of theory of meaning—semantic (...)
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  41. Nils-Eric Sahlin & Martin Kaså (2005). Ramsey Sentences: An Observation. Metaphysica (3):109-117.
    Ramsey argued that the best way to understand how the theoretical terms of a theory function is to picture them as existentially bound variables. We explore the ontological ramifications of Ramsey's idea by developing a new type of dynamic model-theoretical semantics, based on the concept of an experimental logic.
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  42. Herbert A. Simon & Guy J. Groen (1973). Ramsey Eliminability and the Testability of Scientific Theories. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 24 (4):367-380.
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  43. Zeno G. Swijtink (1976). Two Suggestions for Ramsey-Reducts of Infinite Theories. Philosophy of Science 43 (4):575-577.
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  44. Cory D. Wright (2010). Truth, Ramsification, and the Pluralist's Revenge. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (2):265-283.
    Functionalists about truth employ Ramsification to produce an implicit definition of the theoretical term _true_, but doing so requires determining that the theory introducing that term is itself true. A variety of putative dissolutions to this problem of epistemic circularity are shown to be unsatisfactory. One solution is offered on functionalists' behalf, though it has the upshot that they must tread on their anti-pluralist commitments.
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  45. Elie G. Zahar (2004). Ramseyfication and Structural Realism. Theoria 19 (1):5-30.
    Structural Realism (SSR), as embodied in the Ramsey-sentence H* of a theory H, is defended against the view that H* reduces to a trivial statement about the cardinality of the domain of H, a view which arises from ignoring the central role of observation within science. Putnam’s theses are examined and shown to support rather than undermine SSR. Finally: in view of its synthetic character, applied mathematics must enter into the formulation of H* and hence be shown to be finitely (...)
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