The subsumption of reference

Abstract
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 a term in the original theory fails to refer, but rather that a scientific hypothesis encapsulated by the further theory is mistaken. Introduction 1.1 Two theories involving ‘cat’ 1.2 Some objections 1.3 Doing it with matrices 1.4 The theory so far Approximate truth 2.1 Modes of reference 2.2 Papineau's solution Meaning, analyticity and verbal dispositions 3.1 Theory 1 and the folk theory 3.2 Is the armchair too comfortable? 3.3 What role for the armchair? 3.4 How can we be mistaken about our dispositions? 3.5 The theory of reference and the theory of meaning.
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DOI 10.1093/phisci/axi109
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