Philosophy of Science 55 (4):493-510 (1988)
|Abstract||This paper defends the Causal Theory of Reference against the recent criticism that it imposes a priori constraints on the aims and practices of science. The metaphysical essentialism of this theory is shown to be compatible with the requirements of naturalistic epistemology. The theory is nevertheless unable to forestall the problem of incommensurability for scientific terms, because it misrepresents the conditions under which their reference is fixed. The resources of the Causal Theory of Reference and of the traditional cluster or "network" theory of meaning for handling problems of commensurability are compared, and an alternative approach is recommended|
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