The world in itself: Neither uniform nor physical

Synthese 73 (2):301 - 318 (1987)
Abstract
Since Hume, philosophers of induction have debated the question of whether we have any reason for assuming that nature is uniform. This debate has always presumed that the uniformity hypothesis is itself coherent. In Part 1 of the following I argue that a proper appreciation of Nelson Goodman's so-called grue-green problem1 should lead us to the conclusion that the uniformity hypothesis, under its usual interpretation as a strictly ontological thesis, is incoherent. In Part 2 I argue that further consideration of the grue-green problem leads to the conclusion that certain popular versions of the thesis of physical supervenience/the primacy of physics, under their usual interpretation as strictly ontological theses, are false. In Part 3 I argue that the notions of natural kinds and nature's joints should not be taken as ontologically objective notions but as interest relative. Together Parts 1, 2, and 3 provide support for the Nietzsche-Goodman thesis that philosophers are prone to mistakenly identify as absolute, mind and language independent, features of the world which are in fact only features of a particular discourse, or of the world relative to a particular discourse.
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