On inconsistent entities. A reply to Colyvan

Philosophical Studies 150 (2):301 - 311 (2010)
Abstract
In a recent article M. Colyvan has argued that Quinean forms of scientific realism are faced with an unexpected upshot. Realism concerning a given class of entities, along with this route to realism, can be vindicated by running an indispensability argument to the effect that the entities postulated by our best scientific theories exist. Colyvan observes that among our best scientific theories some are inconsistent, and so concludes that, by resorting to the very same argument, we may incur a commitment to inconsistent entities. Colyvan's argument could be interpreted, and in part is presented, as a reductio of Quinean scientific realism; yet, Colyvan in the end manifests some willingness to bite the bullet, and provides some reasons why we shouldn't feel too uncomfortable with those entities. In this paper we wish to indicate a way out to the scientific realist, by arguing that no indispensability argument of the kind suggested by Colyvan is actually available. To begin with, in order to run such an indispensability argument we should be justified in believing that an inconsistent theory is true; yet, in so far as the logic we accept is a consistent one it is arguable that our epistemic predicament could not be possibly one in which we are justified in so believing. Moreover, also if our logic admitted true contradictions, as Dialetheism does, it is arguable that Colyvan's indispensability argument could not rest on a true premise. As we will try to show, dialetheists do not admit true contradictions for cheap: they do so just as a way out of paradox, namely whenever we are second-level ignorant as to the metaphysical possibility of evidence breaking the parity among two or more inconsistent claims; Colyvan's examples, however, are not of this nature. So, even under the generous assumption that Dialetheism is true, we will conclude that Colyvan's argument doesn't achieve its surprising conclusion
Keywords Ontological commitment  Indispensability argument  Realism  Inconsistent entities  Dialetheism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,007
External links
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

View all 11 references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-05-23

Total downloads

43 ( #38,898 of 1,101,177 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

8 ( #27,861 of 1,101,177 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.