The Quest for Natural Attitudes within Ontological Limits

In “The Natural Ontological Attitude,” Arthur Fine attempts to provide a way out of the realist/antirealist dichotomy in philosophy of science. Says Fine, the natural way of treating the ontological status of theoretical entities is not to form speculative metaphysical theories, be they realist or antirealist, but instead is to apply a homely version of Tarskian semantics. I argue that Fine’s position depends on two deficient maxims, and therefore does not provide a compelling way out of the realist/antirealist dichotomy. Fine’s Maxim (FM) prohibits the possibility of inferring justified metaphysical theses from the truth-value of existence claims. Hilbert’s Maxim (HM) asserts that metatheoretic arguments are cogent only if they adhere to stricter standards than their constituent theories. I argue that (FM) is likely false, but even if true cannot be rationally believed. I further argue that (HM) is a deficient standard for theory justification due to the problem of infinite regress
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