Reference failure and scientific realism: A response to the meta-induction

Pure causal theories of reference cannot account for cases of theoretical term reference failure and do not capture the scientific point of introducing new theoretical terminology. In order to account for paradigm cases of reference failure and the point of new theoretical terminology, a descriptive element must play a role in fixing the reference of theoretical terms. Richard Boyd's concept of theory constituitive metaphors provides the necessary descriptive element in reference fixing. In addition to providing a plausible account of reference failure and success, a metaphor approach to reference fixing provides the basis for a plausible realist account of the progress of science. Indeed, the metaphor approach undermines the sceptical force of the meta-induction and Laudan's objections to scientific realism.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/43.1.21
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Antonio Diéguez-Lucena (2006). Why Does Laudan's Confutation of Convergent Realism Fail? Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 37 (2):393 - 403.
Igor Douven (2000). Theoretical Terms and the Principle of the Benefit of Doubt. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 14 (2):135 – 146.
Christina McLeish (2007). Am I a Rodent? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 38 (3):668-677.

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