Scientific representation: A long journey from pragmatics to pragmatics Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9465-5 Authors James Ladyman, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, 9 Woodland Rd, Bristol, BS8 1TB UK OtávioBueno, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA Mauricio Suárez, Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, Complutense University of Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain Bas C. van Fraassen, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Journal (...) Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
The physics and metaphysics of identity and individuality Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9463-7 Authors Don Howard, Department of Philosophy and Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA Bas C. van Fraassen, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA OtávioBueno, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA Elena Castellani, Department of Philosophy, University of Florence, Via Bolognese (...) 52, 50139 Florence, Italy Laura Crosilla, Department of Pure Mathematics, School of Mathematics, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT UK Steven French, Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK Décio Krause, Department of Philosophy, Federal University of Santa Catarina, 88040-900 Campus Trindade, Florianópolis, SC Brazil Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
Nominalism and the application of mathematics Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-012-9653-6 Authors OtávioBueno, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
In this paper, we provide a new formulation of a coherence theory of truth using the resources of the partial structures approach -— in particular the notions of partial structure and quasi-truth. After developing this new formulation, we apply the resulting theory to the philosophy of mathematics, and argue that it can be used to develop a new account of nominalism in mathematics. This application illustrates the strength and usefulness of the proposed formulation of a coherence theory of truth.
Current versions of nominalism in the philosophy of mathematics face a significant problem to understand mathematical knowledge. They are unable to characterize mathematical knowledge as knowledge of the objects mathematical theories are taken to be about. Oswaldo Chateaubriand’s insightful reformulation of Platonism (Chateaubriand 2005) avoids this problem by advancing a broader conception of knowledge as justified truth beyond a reasonable doubt, and by introducing a suitable characterization of logical form in which the relevant mathematical facts play an important role in (...) the truth of the corresponding mathematical propositions. In this paper, I contrast Chateaubriand’s proposal with an agnostic form of nominalism that is able to accommodate mathematical knowledge without the commitment to mathematical facts. (shrink)
Logical pluralism is the view according to which there is more than one relation of logical consequence, even within a given language. A recent articulation of this view has been developed in terms of quantification over different cases: classical logic emerges from consistent and complete cases; constructive logic from consistent and incomplete cases, and paraconsistent logic from inconsistent and complete cases. We argue that this formulation causes pluralism to collapse into either logical nihilism or logical universalism. In its place, we (...) propose a modalist account of logical pluralism that is independently well motivated and that avoids these collapses. (shrink)
Quine has famously put forward the indispensability argument to force belief in the existence of mathematical objects (such as classes) due to their indispensability to our best theories of the world (Quine 1960). Quine has also advocated the indeterminacy of reference argument, according to which reference is dramatically indeterminate: given a language, there’s no unique reference relation for that language (see Quine 1969a). In this paper, I argue that these two arguments are in conflict with each other. Whereas the indispensability (...) argument supports realism about mathematics, the indeterminacy of reference argument, when applied to mathematics, provides a powerful strategy in support of mathematical anti-realism. I conclude the paper by indicating why the indeterminacy of reference phenomenon should be preferred over the considerations regarding indispensability. In the end, even the Quinean shouldn’t be a realist (platonist) about mathematics. (shrink)
Scientific change has two important dimensions: conceptual change and structural change. In this paper, I argue that the existence of conceptual change brings serious difficulties for scientific realism, and the existence of structural change makes structural realism look quite implausible. I then sketch an alternative account of scientific change, in terms of partial structures, that accommodates both conceptual and structural changes. The proposal, however, is not realist, and supports a structuralist version of van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism (structural empiricism).
An account of scientific representation in terms of partial structures and partial morphisms is further developed. It is argued that the account addresses a variety of difficulties and challenges that have recently been raised against such formal accounts of representation. This allows some useful parallels between representation in science and art to be drawn, particularly with regard to apparently inconsistent representations. These parallels suggest that a unitary account of scientific and artistic representation is possible, and our article can be viewed (...) as laying the groundwork for such an account—although, as we shall acknowledge, significant differences exist between these two forms of representation. (shrink)
In this paper, I shall provide a defence of second-order logic in the context of its use in the philosophy of mathematics. This shall be done by considering three problems that have been recently posed against this logic: (1) According to Resnik , by adopting second-order quantifiers, we become ontologically committed to classes. (2) As opposed to what is claimed by defenders of second-order logic (such as Shapiro ), the existence of non-standard models of first-order theories does not establish the (...) inadequacy of first—order axiomatisations (Melia ). (3) In contrast with Shapiro’s suggestion (in his ), second-order logic does not help us to establish referential access to mathematical objects (Azzouni ). As I shall argue, each of these problems can be neatly solved by the second-order theorist. As a result, a case for second-order logic can be made. The first two problems will beconsidered rather briefly in the next section. The rest of the paper is dedicate to a discussion of the third. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop a new defense of logicism: one that combines logicism and nominalism. First, I defend the logicist approach from recent criticisms; in particular from the charge that a cruciai principie in the logicist reconstruction of arithmetic, Hume's Principle, is not analytic. In order to do that, I argue, it is crucial to understand the overall logicist approach as a nominalist view. I then indicate a way of extending the nominalist logicist approach beyond arithmetic. Finally, I argue (...) that a nominalist can use the resulting approach to provide a nominalization strategy for mathematics. In this way, mathematical structures can be introduced without ontological costs. And so, if this proposal is correct, we can say that ultimately all the nominalist needs is logic (and, rather loosely, ali the logicist needs is nominalism). (shrink)
According to the semantic view, a theory is characterized by a class of mod- els. In this paper, we examine critically some of the assumptions that underlie this approach. First, we recall that models are models of something. Thus we cannot leave completely aside the axiomatization of the theories under consider- ation, nor can we ignore the metamathematics used to elaborate these models, for changes in the metamathematics often impose restrictions on the resulting models. Second, based on a parallel between (...) van Fraassen’s modal interpre- tation of quantum mechanics and Skolem’s relativism regarding set-theoretic concepts, we introduce a distinction between relative and absolute concepts in the context of the models of a scientific theory. And we discuss the significance of that distinction. Finally, by focusing on contemporary particle physics, we raise the question: since there is no general accepted unification of the parts of the standard model (namely, QED and QCD), we have no theory, in the usual sense of the term. This poses a difficulty: if there is no theory, how can we speak of its models? What are the latter models of? We conclude by noting that it is unclear that the semantic view can be applied to contemporary physical theories. (shrink)
Second-order logic has a number of attractive features, in particular the strong expressive resources it offers, and the possibility of articulating categorical mathematical theories (such as arithmetic and analysis). But it also has its costs. Five major charges have been launched against second-order logic: (1) It is not axiomatizable; as opposed to first-order logic, it is inherently incomplete. (2) It also has several semantics, and there is no criterion to choose between them (Putnam, J Symbol Logic 45:464–482, 1980 ). Therefore, (...) it is not clear how this logic should be interpreted. (3) Second-order logic also has strong ontological commitments: (a) it is ontologically committed to classes (Resnik, J Phil 85:75–87, 1988 ), and (b) according to Quine (Philosophy of logic, Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs, 1970 ), it is nothing more than “set theory in sheep’s clothing”. (4) It is also not better than its first-order counterpart, in the following sense: if first-order logic does not characterize adequately mathematical systems, given the existence of non - isomorphic first-order interpretations, second-order logic does not characterize them either, given the existence of different interpretations of second-order theories (Melia, Analysis 55:127–134, 1995 ). (5) Finally, as opposed to what is claimed by defenders of second-order logic [such as Shapiro (J Symbol Logic 50:714–742, 1985 )], this logic does not solve the problem of referential access to mathematical objects (Azzouni, Metaphysical myths, mathematical practice: the logic and epistemology of the exact sciences, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994 ). In this paper, I argue that the second-order theorist can solve each of these difficulties. As a result, second-order logic provides the benefits of a rich framework without the associated costs. (shrink)
Central to the philosophical understanding of music is the status of musical works. According to the Platonist, musical works are abstract objects; that is, they are not located in space or time, and we have no causal access to them. Moreover, only a particular physical occurrence of these musical works is instantiated when a performance ofthe latter takes place. But even if no performance ever took place, the Platonist insists, the musical work would still exist, since its existence is not (...) tied to spatiotemporal constraints (Kivy , and Dodd ). In this paper, I offer a critical assessment of the Platonist view. I argue that, despite some benefits, Platonism faces significant difficulties in the interpretation of music. In spite ofthe Platonist’s attempt to overcome the problem, the view ultimately doesn’t mesh well with the way we actively respond to performances and fail to respond, in any way similar, to abstract patterns. Platonism also makes knowledge of music something extremely mysterious, given that we have no access to the abstract objects that, according to the Platonist, characterize the musical works. The ability to understand how we respond to musical works is, of course, central to any interpretation of music. This ability is also crucial in explaining the role music plays in various aspects of our culture, Rom bounding with others to music therapy. Given the problems faced by Platonism, it makes more sense to adopt an altemative, non-Platonist view. I conclude the paper by sketching such a non-Platonist proposal. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is two-fold: (1) To contribute to a better knowledge of the method of the Argentinean mathematicians Lia Oubifia and Jorge Bosch to formulate category theory independently of set theory. This method suggests a new ontology of mathematical objects, and has a profound philosophical significance (the underlying logic of the resulting category theory is classical iirst—order predicate calculus with equality). (2) To show in outline how the Oubina-Bosch theory can be modified to give rise to a (...) strong paraconsistent category theory; strong enough to be taken as the basis for a paraconsistent mathematics which encompasses all classical mathematical results. (shrink)
Abstract: Ernest Sosa has recently articulated an insightful response to skepticism and, in particular, to the dream argument. The response relies on two independent moves. First, Sosa offers the imagination model of dreaming according to which no assertions are ever made in dreams and no beliefs are involved there. As a result, it is possible to distinguish dreaming from being awake, and the dream argument is blocked. Second, Sosa develops a virtue epistemology according to which in appropriately normal conditions our (...) perceptual beliefs will be apt. Hence, in these conditions, we will have at least animal knowledge, and the conclusion of the dream argument is undermined. In this article, I examine various moves that the skeptic can make to resist Sosa's challenge, and I contrast the proposal to a neo-Pyrrhonian stance. In the end, there is surprisingly little disagreement about the status of ordinary perceptual beliefs in the two stances. (shrink)
A number of people have recently argued for a structural approach to accounting for the applications of mathematics. Such an approach has been called "the mapping account". According to this view, the applicability of mathematics is fully accounted for by appreciating the relevant structural similarities between the empirical system under study and the mathematics used in the investigation ofthat system. This account of applications requires the truth of applied mathematical assertions, but it does not require the existence of mathematical objects. (...) In this paper, we discuss the shortcomings of this account, and show how these shortcomings can be overcome by a broader view of the application of mathematics: the inferential conception. (shrink)
We argue that standard definitions of ‘vagueness’ prejudice the question of how best to deal with the phenomenon of vagueness. In particular, the usual understanding of ‘vagueness’ in terms of borderline cases, where the latter are thought of as truth-value gaps, begs the question against the subvaluational approach. According to this latter approach, borderline cases are inconsistent (i.e., glutty not gappy). We suggest that a definition of ‘vagueness’ should be general enough to accommodate any genuine contender in the debate over (...) how to best deal with the sorites paradox. Moreover, a definition of ‘vagueness’ must be able to accommodate the variety of forms sorites arguments can take. These include numerical, total-ordered sorites arguments, discrete versions, continuous versions, as well as others without any obvious metric structure at all. After considering the shortcomings of various definitions of ‘vagueness’, we propose a very general non-question-begging definition. (shrink)
We formulate Suppes predicates for various kinds of space-time: classical Euclidean, Minkowski's, and that of General Relativity. Starting with topological properties, these continua are mathematically constructed with the help of a basic algebra of events; this algebra constitutes a kind of mereology, in the sense of Lesniewski. There are several alternative, possible constructions, depending, for instance, on the use of the common field of reals or of a non-Archimedian field (with infinitesimals). Our approach was inspired by the work of Whitehead (...) (1919), though our philosophical stance is completely different from his. The structures obtained are idealized constructs underlying extant, physical space-time. (shrink)
We formulate Suppes predicates for various kinds of space-time: classical Euclidean, Minkowski's, and that of General Relativity. Starting with topological properties, these continua are mathematically constructed with the help of a basic algebra of events; this algebra constitutes a kind of mereology, in the sense of Lesniewski. There are several alternative, possible constructions, depending, for instance, on the use of the common field of reals or of a non-Archimedian field (with infinitesimals). Our approach was inspired by the work of (...) class='Hi'>Whitehead (1919), though our philosophical stance is completely different from his. The structures obtained are idealized constructs underlying extant, physical space-time. (shrink)
Abstract: According to Luciano Floridi (2008) , informational structural realism provides a framework to reconcile the two main versions of realism about structure: the epistemic formulation (according to which all we can know is structure) and the ontic version (according to which structure is all there is). The reconciliation is achieved by introducing suitable levels of abstraction and by articulating a conception of structural objects in information-theoretic terms. In this essay, I argue that the proposed reconciliation works at the expense (...) of realism. I then propose an alternative framework, in terms of partial structures, that offers a way of combining information and structure in a realist setting while still preserving the distinctive features of the two formulations of structural realism. Suitably interpreted, the proposed framework also makes room for an empiricist form of informational structuralism (structural empiricism). Pluralism then emerges. (shrink)
In this paper, we examine the concept of particle as it appears in quantum ﬁeld theories (QFT), focusing on a puzzling situation regarding this concept. Although quantum ‘particles’ arise from ﬁelds, which form the basic ontology of QFT, and thus a certain concept of ‘particle’ is al- ways available, the properties ascribed to such ‘particles’ are not completely in agreement with the mathematical and logical description of such ﬁelds, which should be taken as individuals.
Philosophers are very fond of making non-factualist claims—claims to the effect that there is no fact of the matter as to whether something is the case. But can these claims be coherently stated in the context of classical logic? Some care is needed here, we argue, otherwise one ends up denying a tautology or embracing a contradiction. In the end, we think there are only two strategies available to someone who wants to be a non-factualist about something, and remain within (...) the province of classical logic. But one of these strategies is rather controversial, and the other requires substantially more work than is often supposed. Being a non-factualist is no easy business, and it may not be the most philosophically perspicuous way to go. (shrink)
The authors provide an object-theoretic analysis of two paradoxes in the theory of possible worlds and propositions stemming from Russell and Kaplan. After laying out the paradoxes, the authors provide a brief overview of object theory and point out how syntactic restrictions that prevent object-theoretic versions of the classical paradoxes are justified philosophically. The authors then trace the origins of the Russell paradox to a problematic application of set theory in the definition of worlds. Next the authors show that an (...) object-theoretic analysis of the Kaplan paradox reveals that there is no genuine paradox at all, as the central premise of the paradox is simply a logical falsehood and hence can be rejected on the strongest possible grounds—not only in object theory but for the very framework of propositional modal logic in which Kaplan frames his argument. The authors close by fending off a possible objection that object theory avoids the Russell paradox only by refusing to incorporate set theory and, hence, that the object-theoretic solution is only a consequence of the theory’s weakness. (shrink)
In this paper, 1 examine the role of the delta function in Dirac’s formulation of quantum mechanics (QM), and I discuss, more generally, the role of mathematics in theory construction. It has been argued that mathematical theories play an indispensable role in physics, particularly in QM [Colyvan, M. (2001). The inrlispensability of mathematics. Oxford University Press: Oxford]. As I argue here, at least in the case of the delta function, Dirac was very clear about its rlispensability. I first discuss the (...) significance of the delta function in Dirac’s work, and explore the strategy that he devised to overcome its use. l then argue that even if mathematical theories turned out to be indispensable, this wouidn’t justify the commitment to the existence of mathematical entities. In fact, even in successful uses of mathematics, such as in Dirac’s discovery of antimatter, there’s no need to believe in the existence of the corresponding mathematical entities. An interesting picture about the application of mathematics emerges from a careful examination of Dirac’s work. (shrink)
In order to develop an account of scientific rationality, two problems need to be addressed: (i) how to make sense of episodes of theory change in science where the lack of a cumulative development is found, and (ii) how to accommodate cases of scientific change where lack of consistency is involved. In this paper, we sketch a model of scientific rationality that accommodates both problems. We first provide a framework within which it is possible to make sense of scientific revolutions, (...) but which still preserves some (partial) relations between old and new theories. The existence of these relations help to explain why the break between different theories is never too radical as to make it impossible for one to interpret the process in perfectly rational terms. We then defend the view that if scientific theories are taken to be quasi-true, and if the underlying logic is paraconsistent, it's perfectly rational for scientists and mathematicians to entertain inconsistent theories without triviality. As a result, as opposed to what is demanded by traditional approaches to rationality, it's not irrational to entertain inconsistent theories. Finally, we conclude the paper by arguing that the view advanced here provides a new way of thinking about the foundations of science. In particular, it extends in important respects both coherentist and foundationalist approaches to knowledge, without the troubles that plague traditional views of scientific rationality. (shrink)
The mathematical concept of pragmatic truth, first introduced in Mikenberg, da Costa and Chuaqui (1986), has received in the last few years several applications in logic and the philosophy of science. In this paper, we study the logic of pragmatic truth, and show that there are important connections between this logic, modal logic and, in particular, Jaskowski's discussive logic. In order to do so, two systems are put forward so that the notions of pragmatic validity and pragmatic truth can be (...) accommodated. One of the main results of this paper is that the logic of pragmatic truth is paraconsistent. The philosophical import of this result, which justifies the application of pragmatic truth to inconsistent settings, is also discussed. (shrink)
In this paper a constructive empiricist account of scientific change is put forward. Based on da Costa's and French's partial structures approach, two notions of empirical adequacy are initially advanced (with particular emphasis on the introduction of degrees of empirical adequacy). Using these notions, it is shown how both the informativeness and the empirical adequacy requirements of an empiricist theory of scientific change can then be met. Finally, some philosophical consequences with regard to the role of structures in this context (...) are drawn.Now, we daily see what science is doing for us. This could not be unless it taught us something about reality; the aim of science is not things themselves, as the dogmatists in their simplicity imagine, but the relations between things; outside those relations there is no reality knowable. (shrink)
In this first paper of a series of works on the foundations of science, we examine the significance of logical and mathematical frameworks used in foundational studies. In particular, we emphasize the distinction between the order of a language and the order of a structure to prevent confusing models of scientific theories (as set-theoretical structures) with first-order structures (called here order-1 structures), and which are studied in standard (first-order) model theory. All of us are, of course, bound to make abuses (...) of language even in putatively precise contexts. This is not a problem—in fact, it is part of scientific and philosophical practice. But it is important to be sensitive to the dierent uses that structure, model, and language have. In this paper, we examine these topics in the context of classical logic; only in the last section we touch upon briefly on non-classical ones. (shrink)
Yablo’s paradox is generated by the following (infinite) list of sentences (called the Yablo list): (s1) For all k > 1, sk is not true. (s2) For all k > 2, sk is not true. (s3) For all k > 3, sk is not true. . . . . . . . .
We offer an overview of some ways of examining the connections between stance and rationality, by surveying recent work on four central topics: (a) the very idea of a stance, (b) the relations between stances and voluntarism, (c) the metaphysics and epistemology that emerge once stances are brought to center stage, and (d) the role that emotions and phenomenology play in the empirical stance.
Current versions of nominalism in the philosophy of mathematics have the benefit of avoiding commitment to the existence of mathematical objects. But this comes with the cost of not taking mathematical theories literally. Jody Azzouni's Deflating Existential Consequence has recently challenged this conclusion by formulating a nominalist view that lacks this cost. In this paper, we argue that, as it stands, Azzouni's proposal does not yet succeed. It faces a dilemma to the effect that either the view is not nominalist (...) or it fails to take mathematics literally. After presenting the dilemma, we suggest a possible solution for the nominalist. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that symmetry principles in physics (in particular, in quantum mechanics) have a methodological character, rather than an ontological or an epistemological one. First, I provide a framework to address three related issues regarding the notion of symmetry: (i) how the notion can be characterized; (ii) one way of discussing the nature of symmetry principles, and (iii) a tentative account of some types of symmetry in physics. To illustrate how the framework functions, I then consider the (...) case of the early formulation of quantum mechanics, examining the different roles played by symmetry in this context. Finally, I raise difficulties for ontological and purely episte. (shrink)
The partial structures approach has two major components: a broad notion of structure (partial structure) and a weak notion of truth (quasi-truth). In this paper, we discuss the relationship between this approach and free logic. We also compare the model-theoretic analysis supplied by partial structures with the method of supervaluations, which was initially introduced as a technique to provide a semantic analysis of free logic. We then combine the three formal frameworks (partial structures, free logic and supervaluations), and apply the (...) resulting approach to accommodate semantic paradoxes. (shrink)
We have three goals in this paper. First, we outline an ontology of stance, and explain the role that modes of engagement and styles of reasoning play in the characterization of a stance. Second, we argue that we do enjoy a degree of control over the modes of engagement and styles of reasoning we adopt. Third, we contend that maximizing one’s prospects for change (within the framework of other constraints, e.g., beliefs, one has) also maximizes one’s rationality.
Ask a philosopher what a proof is, and you’re likely to get an answer hii empaszng one or another regimentationl of that notion in terms of a finite sequence of formalized statements, each of which is either an axiom or is derived from an axiom by certain inference rules. (Wecan call this the formal conception of proof) Ask a mathematician what a proof is, and you will rbbl poay get a different-looking answer. Instead of stressing a partic- l uar regimented (...) notion of proof, the answer the mathematician will give ilikl.. (shrink)
Relativism and scepticism are often taken to be incompatible doctrines. After all, the relativist typically attempts to argue that there are no universal standards of assessment between different conceptual schemes – hence the slogan: everything is relative. The sceptic, in turn, is often portrayed as defending the view according to which knowledge is impossible – and thus we cannot even know that the relativist’s claim is true. Despite their incompatibility, both views are taken to be wrong, and for similar self-refuting (...) reasons: they undermine themselves. In his recent book, Relativism and the Foundations of Philosophy, Steven Hales argues that relativism can be defended – as long as it is suitably formulated and restricted to philosophical propositions (Hales, 2006). These propositions are relatively true: true in some contexts (or perspectives) and false in others. In this paper, I defend two main claims. First, Hales’ proposal is not restricted to philosophical propositions, but applies equally well to mathematical ones. Second, with a proper understanding of scepticism, Hales’ proposal would actually be welcomed by the sceptic. Some may take these two claims to amount to a sort of reductio of Hales’ project. Since mathematical claims are typically not taken to be relatively true, and given that scepticism is typically taken to be false, a proposal that leads to these results would be unacceptable. Rather than drawing this conclusion, I think these results show that we need to rethink deeply held assumptions about the nature of mathematics and of scepticism. Hales’ book is an excellent contribution to that. (shrink)
This paper provides a rationale for advocating pancritical rationalism. First, it argues that the advocate of critical rationalism may accept (but not be internally justified in accepting) that there is ‘justification’ in an externalist sense, specifically that certain procedures can track truth, and suggest that this recognition should inform practice; that one should try to determine which sources and methods are appropriate for various aspects of inquiry, and to what extent they are. Second, it argues that if there is external (...) justification, then a critical rationalist is better off than a dogmatist from an evolutionary perspective. (shrink)
http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2008v12n2p177 Can a constructive empiricist make sense of scientific representation? Usually, a scientific model is an abstract entity (e.g., formulated in set theory), and scientific representation is conceptualized as an intentional relation between scientific models and certain aspects of the world. On this conception, since both the models and the representation relation are abstract, a constructive empiricist, who is not committed to the existence of abstract entities, would be unable to invoke these notions to make sense of scientific representation. In (...) this paper, instead of understanding representation as a relation between abstract entities, I focus on the activity of representing, and argue that it provides a way of making sense of representation within the boundaries of empiricism. The activity of representing doesn’t deal with abstract entities, but with concrete ones, such as inscriptions, templates, and blueprints. In the end, by examining the practice of representing, rather than an artificially reified product—the representation—the constructive empiricist has the resources to make sense of scientific representation in empiricist terms. (shrink)
The issue of what consequences to draw from the existence of non-classical logical systems has been the subject of an interesting debate across a diversity of fields. In this paper the matter of alternative logics is considered with reference to a specific belief system and its propositions :the Azande are said to maintain beliefs about witchcraft which, when expressed propositionally, appear to be inconsistent. When the Azande have been presented with such inconsistencies, they either fail to see them as such (...) or else accept them as non-problematical. Is our knowledge of logical truths a relative and culturally determined phenomenon, or is there some (transcendent) criterion that allows us to adjudicate between alternative logical systems? The authors propose an approach for resolving disputes about the status of Azande reasoning which assumes a paraconsistent framework, thus providing a new perspective on this debate. (shrink)