David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1424-1436 (2003)
Hartry Field (1980) has developed an interesting nominalization strategy for Newtonian gravitation theory—a strategy that reformulates the theory without quantification over abstract entities. According to David Malament (1982), Field's strategy cannot be extended to quantum mechanics (QM), and so it only has a limited scope. In a recent work, Mark Balaguer has responded to Malament's challenge by indicating how QM can be nominalized, and by “doing much of the work needed to provide the nominalization” (Balaguer 1998, 114). In this paper, I critically assess Balaguer's proposal, and argue that it ultimately fails. Balaguer's strategy is incompatible with a number of interpretations of QM, in particular with Bas van Fraassen's version of the modal interpretation. And given that Balaguer's strategy invokes physically real propensities, it is unclear whether it is even compatible with nominalism. I conclude that the nominalization of QM remains a major problem for the nominalist.
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Citations of this work BETA
Mark Balaguer (2009). Fictionalism, Theft, and the Story of Mathematics. Philosophia Mathematica 17 (2):131-162.
Frederick Kroon (2011). Fictionalism in Metaphysics. Philosophy Compass 6 (11):786-803.
Glen Meyer (2009). Extending Hartry Field's Instrumental Account of Applied Mathematics to Statistical Mechanics. Philosophia Mathematica 17 (3):273-312.
P. Dicken (2006). Can the Constructive Empiricist Be a Nominalist? Quasi-Truth, Commitment and Consistency. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 37 (2):191-209.
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