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Profile: Gabriele Contessa (Carleton University, London School of Economics)
  1. Scientific Representation, Interpretation, and Surrogative Reasoning.Gabriele Contessa - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (1):48-68.
    In this paper, I develop Mauricio Suárez’s distinction between denotation, epistemic representation, and faithful epistemic representation. I then outline an interpretational account of epistemic representation, according to which a vehicle represents a target for a certain user if and only if the user adopts an interpretation of the vehicle in terms of the target, which would allow them to perform valid (but not necessarily sound) surrogative inferences from the model to the system. The main difference between the interpretational conception I (...)
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  2. It Ain’T Easy: Fictionalism, Deflationism, and Easy Arguments in Ontology.Gabriele Contessa - 2016 - Mind 125 (499):763-773.
    Fictionalism and deflationism are two moderate meta-ontological positions that try to occupy a middle ground between the extremes of heavy-duty realism and hard-line eliminativism. Deflationists believe that the existence of certain entities (e.g.: numbers) can be established by means of ‘easy’ arguments—arguments that, supposedly, rely solely on uncontroversial premises and trivial inferences. Fictionalists, however, find easy arguments unconvincing. Amie Thomasson has recently argued that, in their criticism of easy arguments, fictionalists beg the question against deflationism and that the fictionalist alternative (...)
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  3. One's a Crowd: Mereological Nihilism Without Ordinary‐Object Eliminativism.Gabriele Contessa - 2014 - Analytic Philosophy 55 (2):199-221.
    Mereological nihilism is the thesis that there are no composite objects—i.e. objects with proper material parts. One of the main advantages of mereological nihilism is that it allows its supporters to avoid a number of notorious philosophical puzzles. However, it seems to offer this advantage only at the expense of certain widespread and deeply entrenched beliefs. In particular, it is usually assumed that mereological nihilism entails eliminativism about ordinary objects—i.e. the counterintuitive thesis that there are no such things as tables, (...)
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  4. The Junk Argument: Safe Disposal Guidelines for Mereological Universalists.Gabriele Contessa - 2012 - Analysis 72 (3):455-457.
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  5. Modal Truthmakers and Two Varieties of Actualism.Gabriele Contessa - 2010 - Synthese 174 (3):341 - 353.
    In this paper, I distinguish between two varieties of actualism—hardcore actualism and softcore actualism—and I critically discuss Ross Cameron’s recent arguments for preferring a softcore actualist account of the truthmakers for modal truths over hardcore actualist ones. In the process, I offer some arguments for preferring the hardcore actualist account of modal truthmakers over the softcore actualist one.
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  6. Scientific Models and Representation.Gabriele Contessa - 2011 - In Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.), The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Science. Continuum Press. pp. 120--137.
    My two daughters would love to go tobogganing down the hill by themselves, but they are just toddlers and I am an apprehensive parent, so, before letting them do so, I want to ensure that the toboggan won’t go too fast. But how fast will it go? One way to try to answer this question would be to tackle the problem head on. Since my daughters and their toboggan are initially at rest, according to classical mechanics, their final velocity will (...)
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  7. Dispositions and Interferences.Gabriele Contessa - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (2):401-419.
    The Simple Counterfactual Analysis (SCA) was once considered the most promising analysis of disposition ascriptions. According to SCA, disposition ascriptions are to be analyzed in terms of counterfactual conditionals. In the last few decades, however, SCA has become the target of a battery of counterexamples. In all counterexamples, something seems to be interfering with a certain object’s having or not having a certain disposition thus making the truth-values of the disposition ascription and of its associated counterfactual come apart. Intuitively, however, (...)
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  8.  69
    Dispositions and Tricks.Gabriele Contessa - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (3):587-596.
    According to the Simple Conditional Analysis of disposition ascriptions, disposition ascriptions are to be analyzed in terms of counterfactual conditionals. The Simple Conditional Analysis is notoriously vulnerable to counterexamples. In this paper, I introduce a new sort of counterexample to the Simple Conditional Analysis of disposition ascriptions, which I call ‘tricks’. I then explore a number of possible strategies to modify the Simple Conditional Analysis so as to avoid tricks and conclude that, in order to avoid tricks, the associated counterfactual (...)
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  9. Scientific Models and Fictional Objects.Gabriele Contessa - 2009 - Synthese 172 (2):215 - 229.
    In this paper, I distinguish scientific models in three kinds on the basis of their ontological status—material models, mathematical models and fictional models, and develop and defend an account of fictional models as fictional objects—i.e. abstract objects that stand for possible concrete objects.
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  10. Only Powers Can Confer Dispositions.Gabriele Contessa - 2014 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (259):160-176.
    According to power theorists, properties are powers—i.e. they necessarily confer on their bearers certain dispositions. Although the power theory is increasingly gaining popularity, a vast majority of analytic metaphysicians still favors what I call ‘the nomic theory’—i.e. the view according to which what dispositions a property confers on its bearers is contingent on what the laws of nature happen to be. This paper argues that the nomic theory is inconsistent, for, if it were correct, then properties would not confer any (...)
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  11. Does Your Metaphysics Need Structure?Gabriele Contessa - 2013 - Analysis 73 (4):715-721.
    This paper is part of a book symposium on Theodore Sider's Writing the Book of the World.
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  12.  30
    Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality, by Barbara Vetter.Gabriele Contessa - 2016 - Mind 125 (500):1236-1244.
    Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality, by VetterBarbara. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2015. Pp. ix + 335.
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  13. Do Extrinsic Dispositions Need Extrinsic Causal Bases?Gabriele Contessa - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (3):622-638.
    In this paper, I distinguish two often-conflated theses—the thesis that all dispositions are intrinsic properties and the thesis that the causal bases of all dispositions are intrinsic properties—and argue that the falsity of the former does not entail the falsity of the latter. In particular, I argue that extrinsic dispositions are a counterexample to first thesis but not necessarily to the second thesis, because an extrinsic disposition does not need to include any extrinsic property in its causal basis. I conclude (...)
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  14. Sweet Nothings.Gabriele Contessa - 2012 - Analysis 72 (2):354-366.
    [This paper is part of a book symposium on Jody Azzouni's Talking about Nothing: Numbers, Hallucinations, and Fictions].
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  15. Empiricist Structuralism, Metaphysical Realism, and the Bridging Problem.Gabriele Contessa - 2010 - Analysis 70 (3):514-524.
    [This paper is part of a book symposium on Bas van Fraassen's Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective (OUP, 2010)].
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  16.  40
    A Note on the Nomic Possibility of a Dynamic Shift.Gabriele Contessa - 2008 - Erkenntnis 68 (2):187-190.
    In this note, I argue that a dynamically shifted world—i.e. a world identical to our own except for a fixed constant difference in the absolute acceleration of each object—is nomically impossible in a Newtonian world populated by finitely many objects. A dynamic shift however seems to be nomically possible in a world populated by infinitely many objects, but only in a broad sense of nomic possibility.
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  17. Constructive Empiricism, Observability, and Three Kinds of Ontological Commitment.Gabriele Contessa - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 37 (4):454–468.
    In this paper, I argue that, contrary to the constructive empiricist’s position, observability is not an adequate criterion as a guide to ontological commitment in science. My argument has two parts. First, I argue that the constructive empiricist’s choice of observability as a criterion for ontological commitment is based on the assumption that belief in the existence of unobservable entities is unreasonable because belief in the existence of an entity can only be vindicated by its observation. Second, I argue that (...)
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  18. Scientific Models, Partial Structures and the New Received View of Theories. [REVIEW]Gabriele Contessa - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (2):370-377.
  19. On the Supposed Temporal Asymmetry of Counterfactual Dependence; Or: It Wouldn't Have Taken a Miracle!Gabriele Contessa - 2006 - Dialectica 60 (4):461–473.
    The thesis that a temporal asymmetry of counterfactual dependence characterizes our world plays a central role in Lewis’s philosophy, as. among other things, it underpins one of Lewis most renowned theses—that causation can be analyzed in terms of counterfactual dependence. To maintain that a temporal asymmetry of counterfactual dependence characterizes our world, Lewis committed himself to two other theses. The first is that the closest possible worlds at which the antecedent of a counterfactual conditional is true is one in which (...)
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  20.  60
    Scientific Representation, Smilarity and Prediction.Gabriele Contessa - manuscript
    In this paper, I consider how different versions of the similarity account of scientific representation might apply to a simple case of scientific representation, in which a model is used to predict the behaviour of a system. I will argue that the similarity account is potentially susceptible to the problem of accidental similarities between the model and the system and that, if it is to avoid this problem, one has to specify which similarities have to hold between a model and (...)
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  21. Disentangling Scientific Representation.Gabriele Contessa - manuscript
    The main aim of this paper is to disentangle three senses in which we can say that a model represents a system—denotation epistemic representation, and successful epistemic representation--and to individuate what questions arise from each sense of the notion of representation as used in this context. Also, I argue that a model is an epistemic representation of a system only if a user adopts a general interpretation of the model in terms of a system. In the process, I hope to (...)
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  22. Keeping Track of Neurath's Bill: Abstract Concepts, Stock Models, and the Unity of Classical Physics.Sheldon Steed, Gabriele Contessa & Nancy Cartwright - 2011 - In Olga Pombo, John Symons & Juan Manuel Torres (eds.), Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
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  23.  54
    Who is Afraid of Imaginary Objects?Gabriele Contessa - 2009 - In Nicholas Griffin & Dale Jacquette (eds.), Russell Vs. Meinong: The Legacy of "On Denoting". Routledge.
    People often use expressions such as ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘Pegasus’ that appear to refer to imaginary objects. In this paper, I consider the main attempts to account for apparent reference to imaginary objects available in the literature and argue that all fall short of being fully satisfactory. In particular, I consider the problems of two main options to maintain that imaginary objects are real and reference to them is genuine reference: possibilist and abstractist account. According to the former, imaginary objects (...)
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  24.  11
    Constructive Empiricism, Observability and Three Kinds of Ontological Commitment.Gabriele Contessa - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (3):454-468.
  25.  9
    Scientific Models and Fictional Objects.Gabriele Contessa - 2009 - Synthese 172 (2):215-229.
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  26.  60
    Introduction.Gabriele Contessa - 2009 - Synthese 172 (2):193-195.
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  27.  56
    Review of Bas C. Van Fraassen, Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective[REVIEW]Gabriele Contessa - 2009 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (3).
  28.  9
    Erratum To: Dispositions and Interferences.Gabriele Contessa - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (2):561-562.
    Erratum to: Philos Stud 165:401–419 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9957-9 Throughout the paper, all occurrences of ‘not- and … and In)’, ‘not- and I and … and In)’, ‘not-’, and ‘not- and I1 and … and In)’ should be replaced by, respectively, ‘not- or … or In)’, ‘not- or I or … or In)’, ‘not-’, and ‘not- or I1 or … or In)’.In particular, the definitions of and on pp. 407–408 should read, respectively:x interferes with o’s being intrinsically disposed to M when S (...)
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  29. Models and Maps: An Essay on Epistemic Representation.Gabriele Contessa - 2013 - Carleton University.
    This book defends a two-tiered account of epistemic representation--the sort of representation relation that holds between representations such as maps and scientific models and their targets. It defends a interpretational account of epistemic representation and a structural similarity account of overall faithful epistemic representation.
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  30. Representing Reality: The Ontology of Scientific Models and Their Representational Function.Gabriele Contessa - 2007 - Dissertation, University of London
    Today most philosophers of science believe that models play a central role in science and that one of the main functions of scientific models is to represent systems in the world. Despite much talk of models and representation, however, it is not yet clear what representation in this context amounts to nor what conditions a certain model needs to meet in order to be a representation of a certain system. In this thesis, I address these two questions. First, I will (...)
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  31. Scientific Models, Partial Structures and the New Received View of Theories.Gabriele Contessa - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 37 (2):370-377.
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