David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (4):668--686 (2005)
In this paper, I consider Kitcher's (1993) account of reference for the expressions of past science. Kitcher's case study is of Joseph Priestley and his expression `dephlogisticated air'. There is a strong intuitive case that `dephlogisticated air' referred to oxygen, but it was underpinned by very mistaken phlogiston theory, so concluding either that dephlogisticated air referred straightforwardly or that it failed to refer both have unpalatable consequences. Kitcher argues that the reference of such terms is best considered relative to each token--some tokens refer, and others do not. His account thus relies crucially on how this distinction between tokens can be made good--a puzzle I call the discrimination problem. I argue that the discrimination problem cannot be solved. On any reading of Kitcher's defence of the distinction, the grounds provided are either insufficient or illegitimate. On the first reading, Kitcher violates the principle of humanity by making Priestley's referential success a matter of the mental contents of modern speakers. The second reading sidesteps the problem of beliefs by appealing to mind-independent facts, but I argue that these are insufficient to achieve reference because of the indeterminacy introduced by the qua problem. On the third and final reading, Priestley's success is given by what he would say in counterfactual circumstances. I argue that even if there are facts about what Priestley would say, and there is reason for doubt, there is no motivation to think that such facts determine how Priestley referred in the actual world.
|Keywords||Philip Kitcher, Scientific realism, Reference, Joseph Priestley, Phlogiston, Principle of humanity|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Igor Douven (2000). Theoretical Terms and the Principle of the Benefit of Doubt. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 14 (2):135 – 146.
John Dupré (1981). Natural Kinds and Biological Taxa. Philosophical Review 90 (1):66-90.
Richard Grandy (1973). Reference, Meaning, and Belief. Journal of Philosophy 70 (14):439-452.
Warren Ingber (1979). The Descriptional View of Referring: Its Problems and Prospects. Journal of Philosophy 76 (12):725-738.
Joe LaPorte (1996). Chemical Kind Term Reference and the Discovery of Essence. Noûs 30 (1):112-132.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Seungbae Park (2011). Coherence of Our Best Scientific Theories. Foundations of Science 16 (1):21-30.
Ingo Brigandt, An Alternative to Kitcher's Theory of Conceptual Progress and His Account of the Change of the Gene Concept.
Jeffrey W. Roland (2009). A Euthyphronic Problem for Kitcher's Epistemology of Science. Southern Journal of Philosophy 47 (2):205-223.
Matthew J. Brown (2010). Genuine Problems and the Significance of Science. Contemporary Pragmatism 7 (2):131-153.
Michael A. Bishop & Stephen P. Stich (1998). The Flight to Reference, or How Not to Make Progress in the Philosophy of Science. Philosophy of Science 65 (1):33-49.
James Ladyman (2011). Structural Realism Versus Standard Scientific Realism: The Case of Phlogiston and Dephlogisticated Air. Synthese 180 (2):87 - 101.
Christina McLeish (2006). Realism Bit by Bit: Part II. Disjunctive Partial Reference. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (2):171--190.
Stathis Psillos (1997). Kitcher on Reference. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 11 (3):259 – 272.
Added to index2009-08-21
Total downloads38 ( #53,010 of 1,410,123 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #177,589 of 1,410,123 )
How can I increase my downloads?