Philosophy of Science 47 (1):56-68 (1980)

Catherine Elgin
Harvard University
Although our theories are not precisely true, scientific realists contend that we should admit their objects into our ontology. One justification--offered by Sellars and Putnam--is that current theories belong to series that converge to ideally adequate theories. I consider the way the commitment to convergence reflects on the interpretation of lawlike claims. I argue that the distinction between lawlike and accidental generalizations depends on our cognitive interests and reflects our commitment to the direction of scientific progress. If the sciences disagree about the lawlikeness of some generalization(s), as an argument of Davidson's suggests, it follows from the interest relatively of lawlikeness that the laws of a science do not determine the essences of their objects. I conclude that this form of scientific realism provides no metaphysical support for essentialism
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DOI 10.1086/288909
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