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Summary The main interest of the topic of reference in science relates to the reference of theoretical terms.  This issue was of particular importance in the context of the response to the problem of semantic incommensurability which arises due to meaning or conceptual change.  Philosophers such as Israel Scheffler, Hilary Putnam and Michael Devitt argue that reference may be preserved throughout theoretical change thus ensuring the comparability of theories.  This response found a natural place within the causal theory of reference.  However, problems arose about the application of the causal theory of reference to unobservable entities, as well as with respect to the failure of reference of theoretical terms.  A number of responses have emerged including causal-descriptive theories of reference.
Key works For Scheffler's use of the sense/reference distinction in relation to meaning variance and the comparability of theories, see Scheffler 1967.  Hilary Putnam indicates how a causal theory of reference may be of use with respect to this issue in Putnam 1973.  Arthur Fine raises problems about change of reference which seem to be ruled out by the causal theory in Fine 1975.  Devitt provides general coverage of the topic, including some basis for a response to Fine in Devitt 1979. Kitcher also makes good suggestions about how to deal with the problem of reference change in Kitcher 1978.  The problem of reference failure for theoretical terms within the context of the causal theory and reasons to move to a causal descriptive account are dealt with in Enç 1976, Nola 1980 and Kroon 1985.  For an influential discussion of theoretical terms, see Lewis 1970.  A very influential critical discussion of reference in relation to scientific realism is to be found in Laudan 1981.
Introductions Sankey 1994
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101 found
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  1. Role-Player Realism.Paul Teller - 2016
    In practice theoretical terms are open-ended in not being attached to anything completely specific. This raises a problem for scientific realism: If there is no one completely specific kind of thing that might be in the extension of “atom”, what is it to claim that atoms exist? A realist’s solution is to say that in theoretical contexts of mature atom-theories there are things that play the role of atoms as characterized in that theory-context. The paper closes with a laundry list (...)
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  2. Race and Reference.Adam Hochman - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (2):32.
    The biological race debate is at an impasse. Issues surrounding hereditarianism aside, there is little empirical disagreement left between race naturalists and anti-realists about biological race. The disagreement is now primarily semantic. This would seem to uniquely qualify philosophers to contribute to the biological race debate. However, philosophers of race are reluctant to focus on semantics, largely because of their worries about the ‘flight to reference’. In this paper, I show how philosophers can contribute to the debate without taking the (...)
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  3. The Instrument of Science: Scientific Anti-Realism Revitalised.Darrell P. Rowbottom - 2019 - New York: Routledge.
    Roughly, instrumentalism is the view that science is primarily, and should primarily be, an instrument for furthering our practical ends. It has fallen out of favour because historically influential variants of the view, such as logical positivism, suffered from serious defects. -/- In this book, however, Darrell P. Rowbottom develops a new form of instrumentalism, which is more sophisticated and resilient than its predecessors. This position—‘cognitive instrumentalism’—involves three core theses. First, science makes theoretical progress primarily when it furnishes us with (...)
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  4. Objectivity, Historicity, Taxonomy.Joeri Witteveen - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (3):445-463.
    In Objectivity, Daston and Galison argue that scientific objectivity has a history. Objectivity emerged as a distinct nineteenth-century “epistemic virtue,” flanked in time by other epistemic virtues. The authors trace the origins of scientific objectivity by identifying changes in images from scientific atlases from different periods, but they emphasize that the same history could be narrated using different sorts of scientific objects. One could, for example, focus on the changing uses of “type specimens” in biological taxonomy. Daston :153–182, 2004) indeed (...)
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  5. Realism, Progress and the Historical Turn.Howard Sankey - 2017 - Foundations of Science 22 (1):201-214.
    The contemporary debate between scientific realism and anti-realism is conditioned by a polarity between two opposing arguments: the realist’s success argument and the anti-realist’s pessimistic induction. This polarity has skewed the debate away from the problem that lies at the source of the debate. From a realist point of view, the historical approach to the philosophy of science which came to the fore in the 1960s gave rise to an unsatisfactory conception of scientific progress. One of the main motivations for (...)
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  6. Meta-Incommensurability Between Theories of Meaning: Chemical Evidence.Nicholas W. Best - 2015 - Perspectives on Science 23 (3):361-378.
    Attempting to compare scientific theories requires a philosophical model of meaning. Yet different scientific theories have at times—particularly in early chemistry—pre-supposed disparate theories of meaning. When two theories of meaning are incommensurable, we must say that the scientific theories that rely upon them are meta-incommensurable. Meta- incommensurability is a more profound sceptical threat to science since, unlike first-order incommensurability, it implies complete incomparability.
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  7. Naming and Contingency: The Type Method of Biological Taxonomy.Joeri Witteveen - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (4):569-586.
    Biological taxonomists rely on the so-called ‘type method’ to regulate taxonomic nomenclature. For each newfound taxon, they lay down a ‘type specimen’ that carries with it the name of the taxon it belongs to. Even if a taxon’s circumscription is unknown and/or subject to change, it remains a necessary truth that the taxon’s type specimen falls within its boundaries. Philosophers have noted some time ago that this naming practice is in line with the causal theory of reference and its central (...)
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  8. Can the Pessimistic Induction Be Saved From Semantic Anti-Realism About Scientific Theory?Greg Frost-Arnold - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (3):521-548.
    Scientific anti-realists who appeal to the pessimistic induction (PI) claim that the theoretical terms of past scientific theories often fail to refer to anything. But on standard views in philosophy of language, such reference failures prima facie lead to certain sentences being neither true nor false. Thus, if these standard views are correct, then the conclusion of the PI should be that significant chunks of current theories are truth-valueless. But that is semantic anti-realism about scientific discourse—a position most philosophers of (...)
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  9. Partial Reference, Scientific Realism and Possible Worlds.Anders Landig - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 47:1-9.
    Theories of partial reference have been developed in order to retrospectively interpret rather stubborn past scientific theories like Newtonian dynamics and the phlogiston theory in a realist way, i.e., as approximately true. This is done by allowing for a term to refer to more than one entity at the same time and by providing semantic structures that determine the truth values of sentences containing partially referring terms. Two versions of theories of partial reference will be presented, a conjunctive (by Hartry (...)
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  10. Reference, Truth, and Biological Kinds.Marcel Weber - 2014 - In: J. Dutant, D. Fassio and A. Meylan (Eds.) Liber Amicorum Pascal Engel.
    This paper examines causal theories of reference with respect to how plausible an account they give of non-physical natural kind terms such as ‘gene’ as well as of the truth of the associated theoretical claims. I first show that reference fixism for ‘gene’ fails. By this, I mean the claim that the reference of ‘gene’ was stable over longer historical periods, for example, since the classical period of transmission genetics. Second, I show that the theory of partial reference does not (...)
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  11. Theoretical Terms in Science.Holger Andreas - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia.
    A simple explanation of theoreticity says that a term is theoretical if and only if it refers to nonobservational entities. Paradigmatic examples of such entities are electrons, neutrinos, gravitational forces, genes etc. There is yet another explanation of theoreticity: a theoretical term is one whose meaning becomes determined through the axioms of a scientific theory. The meaning of the term ‘force’, for example, is seen to be determined by Newton’s laws of motion and further laws about special forces, such as (...)
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  12. A Pluralist Approach to Extension: The Role of Materiality in Scientific Practice for the Reference of Natural Kind Terms.Ann-Sophie Barwich - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (2):100-108.
    This article argues for a different outlook on the concept of extension, especially for the reference of general terms in scientific practice. Scientific realist interpretations of the two predominant theories of meaning, namely Descriptivism and Causal Theory, contend that a stable cluster of descriptions or an initial baptism fixes the extension of a general term such as a natural kind term. This view in which the meaning of general terms is presented as monosemantic and the referents as stable, homogeneous, and (...)
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  13. Reference, Success and Entity Realism.Howard Sankey - 2012 - Kairos. Revista de Filosofia and Ciência 5:31-42.
    The paper discusses the version of entity realism presented by Ian Hacking in his book, Representing and Intervening. Hacking holds that an ontological form of scientific realism, entity realism, may be defended on the basis of experimental practices which involve the manipulation of unobservable entities. There is much to be said in favour of the entity realist position that Hacking defends, especially the pragmatist orientation of his approach to realism. But there are problems with the position. The paper explores two (...)
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  14. Theoretical Terms Without Analytic Truths.Michael Strevens - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (1):167-190.
    When new theoretical terms are introduced into scientific discourse, prevailing accounts imply, analytic or semantic truths come along with them, by way of either definitions or reference-fixing descriptions. But there appear to be few or no analytic truths in scientific theory, which suggests that the prevailing accounts are mistaken. This paper looks to research on the psychology of natural kind concepts to suggest a new account of the introduction of theoretical terms that avoids both definition and reference-fixing description. At the (...)
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  15. From the Reference of Terms and Statements to the Reference of Theories: The Novelty of Sneed's View.Juan Manuel Jaramillo U. - 2011 - Discusiones Filosóficas 12 (18):67-88.
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  16. From the Reference of Terms and Statements to the Reference of Theories: The Novelty of Sneed's View.Juan Manuel Jaramillo - 2011 - Discusiones Filosóficas 12 (18):67 - 88.
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  17. Structural Realism Versus Standard Scientific Realism: The Case of Phlogiston and Dephlogisticated Air.James Ladyman - 2011 - Synthese 180 (2):87 - 101.
    The aim of this paper is to revisit the phlogiston theory to see what can be learned from it about the relationship between scientific realism, approximate truth and successful reference. It is argued that phlogiston theory did to some extent correctly describe the causal or nomological structure of the world, and that some of its central terms can be regarded as referring. However, it is concluded that the issue of whether or not theoretical terms successfully refer is not the key (...)
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  18. Saving the Intuitions: Polylithic Reference.Ioannis Votsis - 2011 - Synthese 180 (2):121 - 137.
    My main aim in this paper is to clarify the concepts of referential success and of referential continuity that are so crucial to the scientific realism debate. I start by considering the three dominant theories of reference and the intuitions that motivate each of them. Since several intuitions cited in support of one theory conflict with intuitions cited in support of another something has to give way. The traditional policy has been to reject all intuitions that clash with a chosen (...)
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  19. Realism and the Infinitely Faceted World: Intimations From the 1950s.Alberto Cordero - 2010 - Ontology Studies: Cuadernos de Ontología:7-19.
    Breaking away from logical-empiricism, in the early 1950s Stephen Toulmin presented empirical theories as maps, thereby opening a fertile line of reflection about background interests and their impact on abstraction in scientific theorizing. A few years later, pointing to the “qualitative infinity of nature,” David Bohm denounced what he regarded as counterproductive constraints on the scientific imagination. In realist circles, these two strands of suggestions would be variously supplemented over the following decades with further recognitions of the epistemic merits of (...)
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  20. ¿Desarrollo progresivo de la ciencia sin continuidad referencial? Acerca del realismo de Psillos y la teoría del germoplasma de Weismann.Mariana Córdoba - 2010 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 14 (3):335-348.
    In this paper I argue for the idea that, throughout the history of science, there are some cases of theory change that would show how science develops with no referential continuity. For this purpose, I analyze Psillos’ proposal of a theory of reference used to account for referential continuity in conceptual transitions. This kind of continuity is requested by Psillos —as by other philosophers— in his defense of scientific realism. By means of a historical case, the theory of germplasm of (...)
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  21. Reference to the Best Explanation.Arash Pessian - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4):363-374.
    This paper shows that two questions productively overlap: first, in virtue of what does an agent infer one hypothesis rather than another? Second, in virtue of what does an agent refer to one natural kind rather than another? Peter Lipton answers the first question by articulating the model of inference to the best explanation. Lipton’s answer to the first question is appropriated as an answer to the second.Keywords: Reference; Explanation; Natural kind; Qua problem; Peter Lipton.
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  22. The Optimistic Meta-Induction and Ontological Continuity: The Case of the Electron.Robert Nola - 2008 - In Lena Soler, Howard Sankey & Paul Hoyningen-Huene (eds.), Rethinking Scientific Change and Theory Comparison. Springer.
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  23. Rethinking Scientific Change and Theory Comparison:: Stabilities, Ruptures, Incommensurabilities?Lena Soler, Howard Sankey & Paul Hoyningen-Huene - 2008 - Springer.
    The volume is a collection of essays devoted to the analysis of scientific change and stability. It explores the balance and tension that exist between commensurability and continuity on the one hand, and incommensurability and discontinuity on the other. Moreover, it discusses some central epistemological consequences regarding the nature of scientific progress, rationality and realism. In relation to these topics, it investigates a number of new avenues, and revisits some familiar issues, with a focus on the history and philosophy of (...)
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  24. Putnam's Theory of Natural Kinds and Their Names is Not the Same as Kripke's.Ian Hacking - 2007 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 11 (1):1-24.
    Philosophers have been referring to the “Kripke–Putnam” theory of naturalkind terms for over 30 years. Although there is one common starting point, the two philosophers began with different motivations and presuppositions, and developed in different ways. Putnam’s publications on the topic evolved over the decades, certainly clarifying and probably modifying his analysis, while Kripke published nothing after 1980. The result is two very different theories about natural kinds and their names. Both accept that the meaning of a naturalkind term is (...)
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  25. Theodore Arabatzis, Representing Electrons: A Biographical Approach to Theoretical Entities, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, ISBN 0-226-02420-2 2005 (296 Pp., US$ 70.00, Cloth). [REVIEW]M. Macleod - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 38 (1):226-229.
  26. Reference and Incommensurability: What Rigid Designation Won’T Get You. [REVIEW]Michael P. Wolf - 2007 - Acta Analytica 22 (3):207-222.
    Causal theories of reference in the philosophy of language and philosophy of science have suggested that it could resolve lingering worries about incommensurability between theoretical claims in different paradigms, to borrow Kuhn’s terms. If we co-refer throughout different paradigms, then the problems of incommensurability are greatly diminished, according to causal theorists. I argue that assuring ourselves of that sort of constancy of reference will require comparable sorts of cross-paradigm affinities, and thus provides us with no special relief on this problem. (...)
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  27. Realism Bit by Bit: Part II. Disjunctive Partial Reference.Christina McLeish - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (2):171-190.
    In this second paper, I continue my discussion of the problem of reference for scientific realism. First, I consider a final objection to Kitcher’s account of reference, which I generalise to other accounts of reference. Such accounts make attributions of reference by appeal to our pretheoretical intuitions about how true statements ought to be distibuted among the scientific utterances of the past. I argue that in the cases that merit discussion, this strategy fails because our intuitions are unstable. The interesting (...)
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  28. Theoretical Identity, Reference Fixing, and Boyd’s Defense of Type Materialism.Don Merrell - 2006 - Philosophia 34 (2):169-172.
    In his "Materialism without Reductionism: What Materialism Does not Entail," Richard Boyd answers Kripke's challenge to materialists to come up with a way to explain away the apparent contingency of mind-brain identities. Boyd accuses Kripke of an imaginative myopia manifesting itself as a failure to realize that the more theoretical term in the identity is fixed by contingent descriptions - descriptions that might pick out otherworldly kinds of neural events where C-fibres are absent. If this is something we can confuse (...)
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  29. On How to Refer to Unobservable Entities.Greg Wong-Taylor - 2006 - Macalester Journal of Philosophy 15 (1):4-14.
    In order for us to associate a word with an object it might seem that we would need to have direct experience with both. Given the present technology, however, there are some objects with which we can have no direct experience, namely the unobservable entities postulated by scientific theories. The problem taken up here is how to refer to those entities. There are two prominent attempts to explain reference in scientific theories – the first is Ramsey and Carnap’s proposal that (...)
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  30. The Subsumption of Reference.David Braddon-Mitchell - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (1):157-178.
    How can the reference of theoretical terms be stable over changes of theory? I defend an approach to this that does not depend on substantive metasemantic theories of reference. It relies on the idea that in contexts of use, terms may play a role in a theory that in turn points to a further (possibly unknown) theory. Empirical claims are claims about the nature of the further theories, and the falsification of these further theories is understood not as showing that (...)
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  31. Tracking Referents in Electronic Health Records.Werner Ceusters & Barry Smith - 2005 - Studies in Health Technology and Informatics 116:71–76.
    Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are organized around two kinds of statements: those reporting observations made, and those reporting acts performed. In neither case does the record involve any direct reference to what such statements are actually about. They record not: what is happening on the side of the patient, but rather: what is said about what is happening. While the need for a unique patient identifier is generally recognized, we argue that we should now move to an EHR regime in (...)
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  32. Realism, Positivism and Reference.Jane Duran - 2005 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 36 (2):401 - 407.
    Depending on the realist or instrumentalist twist that is given to positivism, interesting arguments can be made for both causal and classical theories of reference with regard to the use of scientific terms in the language of theory. But my claim is that the rigid foundationalism that supports the theoretical terms via the correspondence rules of the Received View undercuts the notion that it is possible to argue coherently for a causal theory of reference as allied to a positivistic view.
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  33. Scientific Realism Bit by Bit: Part I. Kitcher on Reference.Christina McLeish - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (4):668-686.
    In this paper, I consider Kitcher’s 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 (...)
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  34. Kuhn on Reference and Essence.Alexander Bird - 2004 - Philosophia Scientiae 8 (1):39-71.
    Kuhn's incommensurability thesis seems to challenge scientific realism. One response to that challenge is to focus on the continuity of reference. The casual theory of reference in particular seems to offer the possibility of continuity of reference that woud provide a basis for the sort of comparability between theories that the realist requires. In "Dubbing and Redubbing: the vulnerability of rigid designation" Kuhn attacks the causal theory and the essentialism to which is is related. Kuhn's view is defended by Rupert (...)
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  35. Biological Kinds and the Causal Theory of Reference.Ingo Brigandt - 2004 - In J. C. Marek & M. E. Reicher (eds.), Experience and Analysis: Papers of the 27th International Wittgenstein Symposium. Kirchberg am Wechsel: Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society. pp. 58–60.
    This paper uses an example from biology, the homology concept, to argue that current versions of the causal theory of reference give an incomplete account of reference determination. It is suggested that in addition to samples and stereotypical properties, the scientific use of concepts and the epistemic interests pursued with concepts are important factors in determining the reference of natural kind terms.
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  36. Scientific Realism, Ramsey Sentences and the Reference of Theoretical Terms.Pierre Cruse - 2004 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (2 & 3):133 – 149.
    It is often thought that questions of reference are crucial in assessing scientific realism, construed as the view that successful theories are at least approximately true descriptions of the unobservable; realism is justified only if terms in empirically successful theories generally refer to genuinely existing entities or properties. In this paper this view is questioned. First, it is argued that there are good reasons to think that questions of realism are largely decided by convention and carry no epistemic significance. An (...)
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  37. Theoretical Commensurability by Correspondence Relations: When Empirical Success Implies Theoretical Reference.Gerhard Schurz - 2004 - In D. Kolak & J. Symons (eds.), Quantifiers, Questions and Quantum Physics. Springer. pp. 107-126.
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  38. Kripke, Putnam and the Introduction of Natural Kind Terms.Michael P. Wolf - 2002 - Acta Analytica 17 (1):151-170.
    In this paper, I will outline some of the important points made by Kripke and Putnam on the meaning of natural kind terms. Their notion of the baptism of natural kinds- the process by which kind terms are initially introduced into the language — is of special concern here. I argue that their accounts leave some ambiguities that suggest a baptism of objects and kinds that is free of additional theoretical commitments. Both authors suggest that we name the stuff and (...)
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  39. Incommensurability and Related Matters.Paul Hoyningen-Huene & Howard Sankey (eds.) - 2001 - Kluwer Academic Publishers.
    Incommensurability and Related Matters draws together some of the most distinguished contributors to the critical literature on the problem of the incommensurability of scientific theories. It addresses all the various problems raised by the problem of incommensurability, such as meaning change, reference of theoretical terms, scientific realism and anti-realism, rationality of theory choice, cognitive aspects of conceptual change, as well as exploring the broader implications of incommensurability for cultural difference. While it offers new work, and new directions of discussion, on (...)
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  40. Troubles with the Causal Homeostasis Theory of Reference.Charles Nussbaum - 2001 - Philosophical Psychology 14 (2):155 – 178.
    While purely causal theories of reference have provided a plausible account of the meanings of names and natural kind terms, they cannot handle vacuous theoretical terms. The causal homeostasis theory can but incurs other difficulties. Theories of reference that are intensional and not purely causal tend to be molecularist or holist. Holist theories threaten transtheoretic reference, whereas molecularist theories must supply a principled basis for selecting privileged meaning-determining relations between terms. The causal homeostasis theory is a two-factor molecularist theory, but (...)
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  41. Knowledge and Reference in Empirical Science.Jody Azzouni - 2000 - Routledge.
    _Knowledge and Reference in Empirical Science_ is a fascinating study of the bounds between science and language: in what sense, and of what, does science provide knowledge? Is science an instrument only distantly related to what's real? Can the language of science be used to adequately describe the truth? In this book, Jodi Azziouni investigates the technology of science - the actual forging and exploiting of causal links, between ourselves and what we endeavor to know and understand.
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  42. Knowledge and Reference in Empirical Science.Jody Azzouni - 2000 - Routledge.
    _Knowledge and Reference in Empirical Science_ is a fascinating study of the bounds between science and language: in what sense, and of what, does science provide knowledge? Is science an instrument only distantly related to what's real? Can the language of science be used to adequately describe the truth? In this book, Jody Azziouni investigates the technology of science - the actual forging and exploiting of causal links, between ourselves and what we endeavor to know and understand.
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  43. Theoretical Terms and the Principle of the Benefit of Doubt.Igor Douven - 2000 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 14 (2):135 – 146.
    The Principle of the Benefit of Doubt dictates that, whenever reasonably possible, we interpret earlier-day scientists as referring to entities posited by current science. Putnam has presented the principle as supplementary to his Causal Theory of Reference in order to make this theory generally applicable to theoretical terms. The present paper argues that the principle is of doubtful standing. In particular, it will be argued that the principle lacks a justification and, indeed, is unjustifiable as it stands.
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  44. Refining the Causal Theory of Reference for Natural Kind Terms.P. Kyle Stanford & Philip Kitcher - 2000 - Philosophical Studies 97 (1):97-127.
  45. Semantic Flexibility in Scientific Practice: A Study of Newton's Optics.Michael Bishop - 1999 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 32 (3):210 - 232.
    Semantic essentialism holds that any scientific term that appears in a well-confirmed scientific theory has a fixed kernel of meaning. Semantic essentialism cannot make sense of the strategies scientists use to argue for their views. Newton's central optical expression "light ray" suggests a context-sensitive view of scientific language. On different occasions, Newton's expression could refer to different things depending on his particular argumentative goals - a visible beam, an irreducibly smallest section of propagating light, or a traveling particle of light. (...)
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  46. Reference Change of Natural Kind Terms.Luis Moreno - 1999 - Sorites 11:6-14.
    Kuhn's thesis of referential incommensurability rests on the thesis of reference change according to which theory change involves reference change. One of Kuhn's disagreements with Putnam's reference theory and in general with the causal theory of reference concerns the question of whether the reference of natural kind terms may change. On examining this disagreement it will be paid attention to the factors which might involve changes of reference and to the doctrines which may lend support to the thesis of reference (...)
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  47. The Flight to Reference, or How Not to Make Progress in the Philosophy of Science.Michael A. Bishop & Stephen P. Stich - 1998 - Philosophy of Science 65 (1):33-49.
    The flight to reference is a widely-used strategy for resolving philosophical issues. The three steps in a flight to reference argument are: (1) offer a substantive account of the reference relation, (2) argue that a particular expression refers (or does not refer), and (3) draw a philosophical conclusion about something other than reference, like truth or ontology. It is our contention that whenever the flight to reference strategy is invoked, there is a crucial step that is left undefended, and that (...)
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  48. Natural Kind Terms and Recognitional Capacities.Jessica Brown - 1998 - Mind 107 (426):275-303.
    The main contribution of this paper is a new account of how a community may introduce a term for a natural kind in advance of knowing the correct scientific account of that kind. The account is motivated by the inadequacy of the currently dominant accounts of how a community may do this, namely those proposed by Kripke and by Putman. Their accounts fail to deal satisfactorily with the facts that (1) typically, an item that instantiates one natural kind instantiates several (...)
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  49. Can the World Help Us in Fixing the Reference of Natural Kind Terms?Igor Douven & Jaap Van Brakel - 1998 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 29 (1):59 - 70.
    According to Putnam the reference of natural kind terms is fixed by the world, at least partly; whether two things belong to the same kind depends on whether they obey the same objective laws. We show that Putnam's criterion of substance identity only "works" if we read "objective laws" as "OBJECTIVE LAWS". Moreover, at least some of the laws of some of the special sciences have to be included. But what we consider to be good special sciences and what not (...)
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  50. Taxonomic Incommensurability.Howard Sankey - 1998 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 12 (1):7 – 16.
    In a shift of position that has gone largely unnoticed by the great majority of commentators, Thomas Kuhn's version of the incommensurability thesis underwent a major transformation over the last decade and a half of his life. In his later work, Kuhn argued that incommensurability is a relation of translation failure between local subsets of interdefined theoretical terms, which encapsulate the taxonomic structure of a theory. Incommensurability arises because it is impossible to transfer the natural categories employed within one taxonomic (...)
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