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Steven French [193]Steven N. J. French [1]
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Profile: Steven French (University of Leeds)
  1.  52
    Steven French (2006). Identity in Physics: A Historical, Philosophical, and Formal Analysis. Oxford University Press.
    Steven French and Decio Krause examine the metaphysical foundations of quantum physics. They draw together historical, logical, and philosophical perspectives on the fundamental nature of quantum particles and offer new insights on a range of important issues. Focusing on the concepts of identity and individuality, the authors explore two alternative metaphysical views; according to one, quantum particles are no different from books, tables, and people in this respect; according to the other, they most certainly are. Each view comes with certain (...)
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  2. Steven French & James Ladyman (2003). Remodelling Structural Realism: Quantum Physics and the Metaphysics of Structure. [REVIEW] Synthese 136 (1):31-56.
    We outline Ladyman's 'metaphysical' or 'ontic' form of structuralrealism and defend it against various objections. Cao, in particular, has questioned theview of ontology presupposed by this approach and we argue that by reconceptualisingobjects in structural terms it offers the best hope for the realist in thecontext of modern physics.
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  3.  73
    Steven French (2014). The Structure of the World: Metaphysics and Representation. OUP Oxford.
    Steven French articulates and defends the bold claim that there are no objects in the world. He draws on metaphysics and philosophy of science to argue for structural realism--the position that we live in a world of structures--and defends a form of eliminativism about objects that sets laws and symmetry principles at the heart of ontology.
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  4. Dean Rickles & Steven French (2006). Quantum Gravity Meets Structuralism: Interweaving Relations in the Foundations of Physics. In Dean Rickles, Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.), The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity. Oxford University Press 1--39.
     
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  5.  39
    Steven French, Building Bridges with the Right Tools: Modality and the Standard Model.
    The current state of the relationship between metaphysics and the philosophy of science might appear to be one best described as ‘hostility on both sides’. In an attempt to bridge this gap, French and McKenzie have suggested a two fold strategy: on the one hand, if metaphysics is to be taken to have something direct to say about reality, the implications of physics need to be properly appreciated; on the other, one does not have to agree with the claim that (...)
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  6. Steven French (2008). More Worry and Less Love? Metascience 17 (1):1-26.
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  7. Otavio Bueno & Steven French (2005). A Coherence Theory of Truth. Manuscrito 28 (2):263-290.
    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.
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  8.  13
    Steven French, Beefing Up Recipe Realism: Stir a Pinch of Metaphysics Into the Pot.
    Recent developments in the scientific realism debate have resulted in a form of ‘exemplar driven’ realism that eschews general ‘recipes’ and instead focuses on the specific, ‘local’ reasons for adopting a realist stance in particular theoretical contexts. Here I suggest that such a move highlights even more sharply the need for the realist to incorporate a health dose of metaphysics in her position, particularly when it comes to the theories associated with modern physics. Turning to another set of recent developments, (...)
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  9. Steven French (2010). The Interdependence of Structure, Objects and Dependence. Synthese 175 (S1):89 - 109.
    According to 'Ontic Structural Realism' (OSR), physical objects—qua metaphysical entities—should be reconceptualised, or, more strongly, eliminated in favour of the relevant structures. In this paper I shall attempt to articulate the relationship between these putative objects and structures in terms of certain accounts of metaphysical dependence currently available. This will allow me to articulate the differences between the different forms of OSR and to argue in favour of the 'eliminativist' version. A useful context is provided by Floridi's account of the (...)
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  10. Steven French & James Ladyman (2011). In Defence of Ontic Structural Realism. In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media 25-42.
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  11. Steven French & James Ladyman (1999). Reinflating the Semantic Approach. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (2):103 – 121.
    The semantic, or model-theoretic, approach to theories has recently come under criticism on two fronts: (i) it is claimed that it cannot account for the wide diversity of models employed in scientific practice—a claim which has led some to propose a “deflationary” account of models; (ii) it is further contended that the sense of “model” used by the approach differs from that given in model theory. Our aim in the present work is to articulate a possible response to these claims, (...)
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  12. Otávio Bueno & Steven French (2012). Can Mathematics Explain Physical Phenomena? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):85-113.
    Batterman raises a number of concerns for the inferential conception of the applicability of mathematics advocated by Bueno and Colyvan. Here, we distinguish the various concerns, and indicate how they can be assuaged by paying attention to the nature of the mappings involved and emphasizing the significance of interpretation in this context. We also indicate how this conception can accommodate the examples that Batterman draws upon in his critique. Our conclusion is that ‘asymptotic reasoning’ can be straightforwardly accommodated within the (...)
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  13. Steven French (2011). Metaphysical Underdetermination: Why Worry? Synthese 180 (2):205 - 221.
    Various forms of underdetermination that might threaten the realist stance are examined. That which holds between different 'formulations' of a theory (such as the Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formulations of classical mechanics) is considered in some detail, as is the 'metaphysical' underdetermination invoked to support 'ontic structural realism'. The problematic roles of heuristic fruitfulness and surplus structure in attempts to break these forms of underdetermination are discussed and an approach emphasizing the relevant structural commonalities is defended.
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  14. Steven French & Michael Redhead (1988). Quantum Physics and the Identity of Indiscernibles. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (2):233-246.
    Department of History and Philosophy of Science. University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RH This paper is concerned with the question of whether atomic particles of the same species, i. e. with the same intrinsic state-independent properties of mass, spin, electric charge, etc, violate the Leibnizian Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles, in the sense that, while there is more than one of them, their state-dependent properties may also all be the same. The answer depends on what exactly (...)
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  15.  76
    Steven French, Identity and Individuality in Quantum Theory. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  16. Newton C. A. da Costa & Steven French (2003). Science and Partial Truth a Unitary Approach to Models and Scientific Reasoning. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
     
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  17. Otavio Bueno & Steven French (2011). How Theories Represent. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (4):857-894.
    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 (...)
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  18.  39
    Otávio Bueno, Steven French & James Ladyman (2002). On Representing the Relationship Between the Mathematical and the Empirical. Philosophy of Science 69 (3):497-518.
    We examine, from the partial structures perspective, two forms of applicability of mathematics: at the “bottom” level, the applicability of theoretical structures to the “appearances”, and at the “top” level, the applicability of mathematical to physical theories. We argue that, to accommodate these two forms of applicability, the partial structures approach needs to be extended to include a notion of “partial homomorphism”. As a case study, we present London's analysis of the superfluid behavior of liquid helium in terms of Bose‐Einstein (...)
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  19.  72
    Steven French (2003). A Model‐Theoretic Account of Representation (or, I Don't Know Much About Art…but I Know It Involves Isomorphism). Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1472-1483.
    Discussions of representation in science tend to draw on examples from art. However, such examples need to be handled with care given a) the differences between works of art and scientific theories and b) the accommodation of these examples within certain philosophies of art. I shall examine the claim that isomorphism is neither necessary nor sufficient for representation and I shall argue that there exist accounts of representation in both art and science involving isomorphism which accommodate the apparent counterexamples and, (...)
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  20. Steven French & James Ladyman (2003). The Dissolution of Objects: Between Platonism and Phenomenalism. [REVIEW] Synthese 136 (1):73 - 77.
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  21.  82
    Steven French (2006). Structure as a Weapon of the Realist. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (2):167–185.
    Although much of its history has been neglected or misunderstood, a structuralist 'tendency' has re-emerged within the philosophy of science. Broadly speaking, it consists of two fundamental strands: on the one hand, there is the identification of structural commonalities between theories; on the other, there is the metaphysical decomposition of objects in structural terms. Both have been pressed into service for the realist cause: the former has been identified primarily with Worrall's 'epistemic' structural realism; the latter with Ladyman's 'ontic' form. (...)
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  22.  57
    Steven French (forthcoming). Realism and its Representational Vehicles. Synthese:1-16.
    In this essay I shall focus on the adoption of the Semantic Approach by structural realists, including myself, who have done so on the grounds that it wears its structuralist sympathies on its sleeve. Despite this, the SA has been identified as standing in tension with the ontological commitments of the so-called ’ontic’ form of this view and so I shall explore that tension before discussing the usefulness of the SA in framing scientific representation and concluding with a discussion of (...)
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  23.  70
    Steven French (2003). A Model-Theoretic Account of Representation (Or, I Don't Know Much About Art...But I Know It Involves Isomorphism). Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1472-1483.
    Recent discussions of the nature of representation in science have tended to import pre-established decompositions from analyses of representation in the arts, language, cognition and so forth. Which of these analyses one favours will depend on how one conceives of theories in the first place. If one thinks of them in terms of an axiomatised set of logico-linguistic statements, then one might be naturally drawn to accounts of linguistic representation in which notions of denotation, for example, feature prominently. If, on (...)
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  24.  25
    Steven French (1999). Models and Mathematics in Physics: The Role of Group Theory. In Jeremy Butterfield & Constantine Pagonis (eds.), From Physics to Philosophy. Cambridge University Press 187--207.
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  25.  81
    Newton C. A. da Costa & Steven French (1990). The Model-Theoretic Approach in the Philosophy of Science. Philosophy of Science 57 (2):248 - 265.
    An introduction to the model-theoretic approach in the philosophy of science is given and it is argued that this program is further enhanced by the introduction of partial structures. It is then shown that this leads to a natural and intuitive account of both "iconic" and mathematical models and of the role of the former in science itself.
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  26. Steven French & Juha Saatsi (2006). Realism About Structure: The Semantic View and Nonlinguistic Representations. Philosophy of Science 73 (5):548-559.
    The central concern of this paper is whether the Semantic Approach to theories has the resources to appropriately capture the core tenets of structural realism. Chakravartty, for example, has argued that a realist notion of correspondence cannot be accommodated without introducing a linguistic component which undermines the Approach itself. We suggest first of all, that this worry can be addressed by an appropriate understanding of the role of language with respect to the Semantic Approach. Secondly, we argue that an appropriately (...)
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  27.  55
    Steven French & Décio Krause (2010). Remarks on the Theory of Quasi-Sets. Studia Logica 95 (1/2):101 - 124.
    Quasi-set theory has been proposed as a means of handling collections of indiscernible objects. Although the most direct application of the theory is quantum physics, it can be seen per se as a non-classical logic (a non-reflexive logic). In this paper we revise and correct some aspects of quasi-set theory as presented in [12], so as to avoid some misunderstandings and possible misinterpretations about the results achieved by the theory. Some further ideas with regard to quantum field theory are also (...)
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  28.  82
    Steven French & Kerry McKenzie (2012). Thinking Outside the Toolbox: Towards a More Productive Engagement Between Metaphysics and Philosophy of Physics. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 8 (1):42-59.
    he relationship between metaphysics and science has recently become the focus of increased attention. Ladyman and Ross, in particular, have accused even naturalistically inclined metaphysicians of pursuing little more than the philosophy of A-level chemistry and have suggested that analytic metaphysics should simply be discontinued. In contrast, we shall argue, first of all, that even metaphysics that is disengaged from modern science may offer a set of resources that can be appropriated by philosophers of physics in order to set physics (...)
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  29.  33
    Steven French, Doing Away with Dispositions: Powers in the Context of Modern Physics.
    I first outline the standard dispositionalist account and indicate how this account has been extended from the everyday to the realm of modern physics – from vases to quarks, in effect. Here I note a fundamental obstacle: the role of symmetries as constraints on the fundamental laws in physics. One of the great virtues of the standard dispositionalist account is that it supposedly yields laws from dispositions but it remains unclear, at best, how it can accommodate such symmetry principles. I (...)
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  30. Steven French (2012). Unitary Inequivalence as a Problem for Structural Realism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 43 (2):121-136.
    Howard argues that the existence of unitarily inequivalent representations in Quantum Field Theory presents a problem for structural realism in this context. I consider two potential ways round this problem: 1), follow Wallace in adopting the 'naive' Lagrangian form of QFT with cut-offs; 2), adapt Ruetsche's 'Swiss Army Knife' approach. The first takes us into the current debate between Wallace and Fraser on conventional vs. algebraic QFT. The second involves consideration of the role of inequivalent representations in understanding spontaneous symmetry (...)
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  31. Steven French (1989). Identity and Individuality in Classical and Quantum Physics. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (4):432 – 446.
  32.  97
    Steven French (2000). The Reasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics: Partial Structures and the Application of Group Theory to Physics. Synthese 125 (1-2):103 - 120.
    Wigner famously referred to the `unreasonable effectiveness' of mathematics in its application to science. Using Wigner's own application of group theory to nuclear physics, I hope to indicate that this effectiveness can be seen to be not so unreasonable if attention is paid to the various idealising moves undertaken. The overall framework for analysing this relationship between mathematics and physics is that of da Costa's partial structures programme.
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  33.  58
    Dean Rickles, Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.) (2006). The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity. Oxford University Press.
  34. Newton da Costa & Steven French (2000). Models, Theories, and Structures: Thirty Years On. Philosophy of Science 67 (3):127.
    Thirty years after the conference that gave rise to The Structure of Scientific Theories, there is renewed interest in the nature of theories and models. However, certain crucial issues from thirty years ago are reprised in current discussions; specifically: whether the diversity of models in the science can be captured by some unitary account; and whether the temporal dimension of scientific practice can be represented by such an account. After reviewing recent developments we suggest that these issues can be accommodated (...)
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  35.  66
    Steven French & Décio Krause (2003). Quantum Vagueness. Erkenntnis 59 (1):97 - 124.
    It has been suggested that quantum particles are genuinelyvague objects (Lowe 1994a). The present work explores thissuggestion in terms of the various metaphysical packages that areavailable for describing such particles. The formal frameworksunderpinning such packages are outlined and issues of identityand reference are considered from this overall perspective. Indoing so we hope to illuminate the diverse ways in whichvagueness can arise in the quantum context.
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  36.  50
    Newton C. A. Da Costa, Otávio Bueno & Steven French (1998). The Logic of Pragmatic Truth. Journal of Philosophical Logic 27 (6):603-620.
    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 (...)
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  37. Newton C. A. Costaa & Steven French (1990). The Model-Theoretic Approach in the Philosophy of Science. Philosophy of Science 57 (2):248-265.
    An introduction to the model-theoretic approach in the philosophy of science is given and it is argued that this program is further enhanced by the introduction of partial structures. It is then shown that this leads to a natural and intuitive account of both "iconic" and mathematical models and of the role of the former in science itself.
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  38. Steven French (1998). On the Whithering Away of Physical Objects. In Elena Castellani (ed.), Interpreting Bodies. Princeton University Press 93--113.
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  39. Steven French (2010). Keeping Quiet on the Ontology of Models. Synthese 172 (2):231 - 249.
    Stein once urged us not to confuse the means of representation with that which is being represented. Yet that is precisely what philosophers of science appear to have done at the meta-level when it comes to representing the practice of science. Proponents of the so-called ‘syntactic’ view identify theories as logically closed sets of sentences or propositions and models as idealised interpretations, or ‘theoruncula, as Braithwaite called them. Adherents of the ‘semantic’ approach, on the other hand, are typically characterised as (...)
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  40. Steven French & Dean Rickles (2003). Understanding Permutation Symmetry. In Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press 212--38.
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  41.  80
    Steven French (2013). Semi-Realism, Sociability and Structure. Erkenntnis 78 (1):1 - 18.
    Semi-realism offers a metaphysics of science based on causal properties. Insofar as these are understood in terms of dispositions for specific relations that comprise the concrete structure of the world it can be regarded as a form of structural realism. And insofar as these properties are 'sociable' and cohere into the groupings that comprise the particulars investigated by science, it captures the underlying intuition behind forms of entity realism. However, I shall raise concerns about both these features. I shall suggest (...)
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  42.  21
    Steven French, Response to Critics.
    In a forthcoming review symposium in Metascience, Mauro Dorato, Elaine Landry and Stathis Psillos critically review my recent book, The Structure of the World. Here I respond to these criticisms and, hopefully, indicate how the discussion might be progressed.
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  43. Steven French (2011). Shifting to Structures in Physics and Biology: A Prophylactic for Promiscuous Realism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (2):164-173.
    Within the philosophy of science, the realism debate has been revitalised by the development of forms of structural realism. These urge a shift in focus from the object oriented ontologies that come and go through the history of science to the structures that remain through theory change. Such views have typically been elaborated in the context of theories of physics and are motivated by, first of all, the presence within such theories of mathematical equations that allow straightforward representation of the (...)
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  44. Steven French (1988). A Green Parrot is Just as Much a Red Herring as a White Shoe: A Note on Confirmation, Background Knowledge and the Logico-Probabilistic Approach. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (4):531-535.
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  45. Newton C. A. Costa & Steven French (1989). On the Logic of Belief. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 49 (3):431-446.
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  46.  49
    Steven French (1989). Individuality, Supervenience and Bell's Theorem. Philosophical Studies 55 (1):1-22.
    Some recent work in the philosophy of quantum mechanics has suggested that quantum systems can be thought of as non-separable and therefore non-individual, in some sense, in Bell and E.P.R. type situations. This suggestion is set in the context of previous work regarding the individuality of quantal particles and it is argued that such entities can be considered as individuals if their non-classical statistical correlations are understood in terms of non-supervenient relations holding between them. We conclude that such relations are (...)
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  47. Steven French (1989). Why the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles is Not Contingently True Either. Synthese 78 (2):141 - 166.
    Faced with strong arguments to the effect that Leibniz''sPrinciple of the Identity of Indiscernibles (PII) is not a necessary truth, many supporters of the Principle have staged a strategic retreat to the claim that it is contingently true in this, the actual, world. The purpose of this paper is to examine the status of the various forms of PII in both classical and quantum physics, and it is concluded that this latter view is at best doubtful, at worst, simply wrong.
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  48.  87
    Steven French & Décio Krause (1995). Vague Identity and Quantum Non-Individuality. Analysis 55 (1):20 - 26.
    Lowe has recently argued that quantum particles offer examples of vague objects. While accepting the premise of the argument that such particles can be regarded as individuals, we point out that there is a lacuna here, to be filled by a detailed analysis of the nature of the entangled states which they enter into. We then elaborate the alternative view, according to which such particles should be regarded as non- individuals' and situate it in the context of recent developments of (...)
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  49.  1
    Steven French (2008). Genuine Possibilities in the Scientific Past and How to Spot Them. Isis: A Journal of the History of Science 99:568-575.
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  50.  8
    Newton C. A. da Costa & Steven French (1993). A Model Theoretic Approach to 'Natural' Reasoning. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7 (2):177-190.
    Abstract A general framework is proposed for accommodating the recent results of studies into ?natural? decision making. A crucial element of this framework is the notion of a ?partial structure?, recently introduced into the semantic approach to scientific theories. It is through the introduction of this element that connections can be made with certain problems regarding inconsistency and rationality in general.
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