A number of people have recently argued for a structural approach to accounting for the applications of mathematics. Such an approach has been called "the mapping account". According to this view, the applicability of mathematics is fully accounted for by appreciating the relevant structural similarities between the empirical system under study and the mathematics used in the investigation ofthat system. This account of applications requires the truth of applied mathematical assertions, but it does not require the existence of mathematical objects. (...) In this paper, we discuss the shortcomings of this account, and show how these shortcomings can be overcome by a broader view of the application of mathematics: the inferential conception. (shrink)
Based on da Costa's and French's notions of partial structures and pragmatic truth, this paper examines two possible characterizations of the concept of empirical adequacy, one depending on the notion of partial isomorphism, the other on the hierarchy of partial models of phenomena, and both compatible with an empiricist view. These formulations can then be employed to illuminate certain aspects of scientific practice.An empirical theory must single out a specific part of the world, establish reference to that part, and say—by (...) way of contingent, substantial claim about the world—that its models fit that. Now, how exactly can this be done? Bas C. van Fraassen. (shrink)
According to modalism, modality is primitive. In this paper, we examine the implications of this view for modal epistemology, and articulate a modalist account of modal knowledge. First, we discuss a theoretical utility argument used by David Lewis in support of his claim that there is a plurality of concrete worlds. We reject this argument, and show how to dispense with possible worlds altogether. We proceed to account for modal knowledge in modalist terms.
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 (...) as laying the groundwork for such an account—although, as we shall acknowledge, significant differences exist between these two forms of representation. (shrink)
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 (...) statistics. This involved both the introduction of group theory at the top level, and some modeling at the “phenomenological” level, and thus provides a nice example of the relationships we are interested in. We conclude with a discussion of the “autonomy” of London's model. (shrink)
Logical pluralism is the view according to which there is more than one relation of logical consequence, even within a given language. A recent articulation of this view has been developed in terms of quantification over different cases: classical logic emerges from consistent and complete cases; constructive logic from consistent and incomplete cases, and paraconsistent logic from inconsistent and complete cases. We argue that this formulation causes pluralism to collapse into either logical nihilism or logical universalism. In its place, we (...) propose a modalist account of logical pluralism that is independently well motivated and that avoids these collapses. (shrink)
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 (...) inferential conception. 1 Introduction2 Immersion, Inference and Partial Structures3 Idealization and Surplus Structure4 Renormalization and the Stability of Mathematical Representations5 Explanation and Eliminability6 Requirements for Explanation7 Interpretation and Idealization8 Explanation, Empirical Regularities and the Inferential Conception9 Conclusion. (shrink)
Philosophers are very fond of making non-factualist claims—claims to the effect that there is no fact of the matter as to whether something is the case. But can these claims be coherently stated in the context of classical logic? Some care is needed here, we argue, otherwise one ends up denying a tautology or embracing a contradiction. In the end, we think there are only two strategies available to someone who wants to be a non-factualist about something, and remain within (...) the province of classical logic. But one of these strategies is rather controversial, and the other requires substantially more work than is often supposed. Being a non-factualist is no easy business, and it may not be the most philosophically perspicuous way to go. (shrink)
Identity is arguably one of the most fundamental concepts in metaphysics. There are several reasons why this is the case: Identity is presupposed in every conceptual system: without identity, it is unclear that any conceptual system can be formulated. Identity is required to characterize an individual: nothing can be an individual unless it has well-specified identity conditions. Identity cannot be defined: even in systems that allegedly have the resources to define identity. Identity is required for quantification: the intelligibility of quantification (...) presupposes the identity of the objects that are quantified over. These are only four considerations in support of identity's fundamental role. In this paper, I examine and defend them. I then examine a challenge that has been raised against identity's fundamentality: one from the metaphysics of physics—based on a significant interpretation of non-relativist quantum mechanics—according to which certain quantum particles lack identity conditions. After responding to this challenge, I consider the nature of the commitment to identity, and argue that it turns out to be very minimal. In fact, a very deflationary form of metaphysics can accommodate it. In arguing that identity is fundamental, one need not overstep the boundaries of even a very minimal empiricist metaphysics. Or so I argue. (shrink)
Ontic Structural Realism is a version of realism about science according to which by positing the existence of structures, understood as basic components of reality, one can resolve central difficulties faced by standard versions of scientific realism. Structures are invoked to respond to two important challenges: one posed by the pessimist meta-induction and the other by the underdetermination of metaphysics by physics, which arises in non-relativistic quantum mechanics. We argue that difficulties in the proper understanding of what a structure is (...) undermines the realist component of the view. Given the difficulties, either realism should be dropped or additional metaphysical components not fully endorsed by science should be incorporated. (shrink)
We argue that standard definitions of ‘vagueness’ prejudice the question of how best to deal with the phenomenon of vagueness. In particular, the usual understanding of ‘vagueness’ in terms of borderline cases, where the latter are thought of as truth-value gaps, begs the question against the subvaluational approach. According to this latter approach, borderline cases are inconsistent (i.e., glutty not gappy). We suggest that a definition of ‘vagueness’ should be general enough to accommodate any genuine contender in the debate over (...) how to best deal with the sorites paradox. Moreover, a definition of ‘vagueness’ must be able to accommodate the variety of forms sorites arguments can take. These include numerical, total-ordered sorites arguments, discrete versions, continuous versions, as well as others without any obvious metric structure at all. After considering the shortcomings of various definitions of ‘vagueness’, we propose a very general non-question-begging definition. (shrink)
In this paper a constructive empiricist account of scientific change is put forward. Based on da Costa's and French's partial structures approach, two notions of empirical adequacy are initially advanced (with particular emphasis on the introduction of degrees of empirical adequacy). Using these notions, it is shown how both the informativeness and the empirical adequacy requirements of an empiricist theory of scientific change can then be met. Finally, some philosophical consequences with regard to the role of structures in this context (...) are drawn.Now, we daily see what science is doing for us. This could not be unless it taught us something about reality; the aim of science is not things themselves, as the dogmatists in their simplicity imagine, but the relations between things; outside those relations there is no reality knowable. (shrink)
In this paper, 1 examine the role of the delta function in Dirac’s formulation of quantum mechanics (QM), and I discuss, more generally, the role of mathematics in theory construction. It has been argued that mathematical theories play an indispensable role in physics, particularly in QM [Colyvan, M. (2001). The inrlispensability of mathematics. Oxford University Press: Oxford]. As I argue here, at least in the case of the delta function, Dirac was very clear about its rlispensability. I first discuss the (...) significance of the delta function in Dirac’s work, and explore the strategy that he devised to overcome its use. l then argue that even if mathematical theories turned out to be indispensable, this wouidn’t justify the commitment to the existence of mathematical entities. In fact, even in successful uses of mathematics, such as in Dirac’s discovery of antimatter, there’s no need to believe in the existence of the corresponding mathematical entities. An interesting picture about the application of mathematics emerges from a careful examination of Dirac’s work. (shrink)
We have three goals in this paper. First, we outline an ontology of stance, and explain the role that modes of engagement and styles of reasoning play in the characterization of a stance. Second, we argue that we do enjoy a degree of control over the modes of engagement and styles of reasoning we adopt. Third, we contend that maximizing one’s prospects for change also maximizes one’s rationality.
In this paper, we compare two theories, modal Meinongianism and object theory, with respect to several issues that have been discussed recently in the literature. In particular, we raise some objections for MM, undermine some of the objections that its defenders raise for OT, and we point out some virtues of the latter with respect to the former.
Thirteen up-and-coming researchers in the philosophy of mathematics have been invited to write on what they take to be the right philosophical account of mathematics, examining along the way where they think the philosophy of mathematics is and ought to be going. A rich and diverse picture emerges. Some broader tendencies can nevertheless be detected: there is increasing attention to the practice, language and psychology of mathematics, a move to reassess the orthodoxy, as well as inspiration from philosophical logic.
According to the semantic view, a theory is characterized by a class of models. In this paper, we examine critically some of the assumptions that underlie this approach. First, we recall that models are models of something. Thus we cannot leave completely aside the axiomatization of the theories under consideration, nor can we ignore the metamathematics used to elaborate these models, for changes in the metamathematics often impose restrictions on the resulting models. Second, based on a parallel between van Fraassen’s (...) modal interpretation of quantum mechanics and Skolem’s relativism regarding set-theoretic concepts, we introduce a distinction between relative and absolute concepts in the context of the models of a scientific theory. And we discuss the significance of that distinction. Finally, by focusing on contemporary particle physics, we raise the question: since there is no general accepted unification of the parts of the standard model (namely, QED and QCD), we have no theory, in the usual sense of the term. This poses a difficulty: if there is no theory, how can we speak of its models? What are the latter models of? We conclude by noting that it is unclear that the semantic view can be applied to contemporary physical theories. (shrink)
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 (...) accommodated. One of the main results of this paper is that the logic of pragmatic truth is paraconsistent. The philosophical import of this result, which justifies the application of pragmatic truth to inconsistent settings, is also discussed. (shrink)
Quantifier variance faces a number of difficulties. In this paper we first formulate the view as holding that the meanings of the quantifiers may vary, and that languages using different quantifiers may be charitably translated into each other. We then object to the view on the basis of four claims: (i) quantifiers cannot vary their meaning extensionally by changing the domain of quantification; (ii) quantifiers cannot vary their meaning intensionally without collapsing into logical pluralism; (iii) quantifier variance is not an (...) ontological doctrine; (iv) quantifier variance is not compatible with charitable translation and as such is internally inconsistent. In light of these troubles, we recommend the dissolution of quantifier variance and suggest that the view be laid to rest. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide a unified account of scientific and mathematical change in a thoroughly empiricist setting. After providing a formal modelling in terms of embedding, and criticising it for being too restrictive, a second modelling is advanced. It generalises the first, providing a more open-ended pattern of theory development, and is articulated in terms of da Costa and French's partial structures approach. The crucial component of scientific and mathematical change is spelled out in terms of (...) partial embeddings. Finally, an application of this second pattern is made, with the examination of the early formulation of set theory. (shrink)
Mathematical concepts play at least three roles in the application of mathematics: an inferential role, a representational role, and an expressive role. In this paper, I argue that, despite what has often been alleged, platonists do not fully accommodate these features of the application of mathematics. At best, platonism provides partial ways of handling the issues. I then sketch an alternative, anti-realist account of the application of mathematics, and argue that this account manages to accommodate these features of the application (...) process. In this way, a better account of mathematical applications is, in principle, available. (shrink)
Scientific representation: A long journey from pragmatics to pragmatics Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9465-5 Authors James Ladyman, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, 9 Woodland Rd, Bristol, BS8 1TB UK Otávio Bueno, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA Mauricio Suárez, Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, Complutense University of Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain Bas C. van Fraassen, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Journal Metascience Online (...) ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
The authors provide an object-theoretic analysis of two paradoxes in the theory of possible worlds and propositions stemming from Russell and Kaplan. After laying out the paradoxes, the authors provide a brief overview of object theory and point out how syntactic restrictions that prevent object-theoretic versions of the classical paradoxes are justified philosophically. The authors then trace the origins of the Russell paradox to a problematic application of set theory in the definition of worlds. Next the authors show that an (...) object-theoretic analysis of the Kaplan paradox reveals that there is no genuine paradox at all, as the central premise of the paradox is simply a logical falsehood and hence can be rejected on the strongest possible grounds—not only in object theory but for the very framework of propositional modal logic in which Kaplan frames his argument. The authors close by fending off a possible objection that object theory avoids the Russell paradox only by refusing to incorporate set theory and, hence, that the object-theoretic solution is only a consequence of the theory’s weakness. (shrink)
Current versions of nominalism in the philosophy of mathematics have the benefit of avoiding commitment to the existence of mathematical objects. But this comes with the cost of not taking mathematical theories literally. Jody Azzouni's _Deflating Existential Consequence_ has recently challenged this conclusion by formulating a nominalist view that lacks this cost. In this paper, we argue that, as it stands, Azzouni's proposal does not yet succeed. It faces a dilemma to the effect that either the view is not nominalist (...) or it fails to take mathematics literally. After presenting the dilemma, we suggest a possible solution for the nominalist. (shrink)
Styles of reasoning are important devices to understand scientific practice. As I use the concept, a style of reasoning is a pattern of inferential relations that are used to select, interpret, and support evidence for scientific results. In this paper, I defend the view that there is a plurality of styles of reasoning: different domains of science often invoke different styles. I argue that this plurality is an important source of disunity in scientific practice, and it provides additional arguments in (...) support of the disunity claim. I also contrast Ian Hacking’s broad characterization of styles of reasoning with a narrow understanding that I favor. Drawing on examples from molecular biology, chemistry and mathematics, I argue that differences in style of reasoning lead to differences in the way the relevant results are obtained and interpreted. The result is a pluralist view about styles of reasoning that is sensitive to nuances of inferential relations in scientific activity. (shrink)
In order to develop an account of scientific rationality, two problems need to be addressed: (i) how to make sense of episodes of theory change in science where the lack of a cumulative development is found, and (ii) how to accommodate cases of scientific change where lack of consistency is involved. In this paper, we sketch a model of scientific rationality that accommodates both problems. We first provide a framework within which it is possible to make sense of scientific revolutions, (...) but which still preserves some (partial) relations between old and new theories. The existence of these relations help to explain why the break between different theories is never too radical as to make it impossible for one to interpret the process in perfectly rational terms. We then defend the view that if scientific theories are taken to be quasi-true, and if the underlying logic is paraconsistent, it's perfectly rational for scientists and mathematicians to entertain inconsistent theories without triviality. As a result, as opposed to what is demanded by traditional approaches to rationality, it's not irrational to entertain inconsistent theories. Finally, we conclude the paper by arguing that the view advanced here provides a new way of thinking about the foundations of science. In particular, it extends in important respects both coherentist and foundationalist approaches to knowledge, without the troubles that plague traditional views of scientific rationality. (shrink)
In this paper, I offer an inferential conception of computer simulations, emphasizing the role that simulations play as inferential devices to represent empirical phenomena. Three steps are involved in a simulation: an immersion step, a derivation step, and an interpretation and correction step. After presenting the view, I mention some cases, such as simulations of the current flow between silicon atoms and buckyballs as well as of genetic regulatory systems. I argue that the inferential conception accommodates the integration of empirical (...) and theoretical data; it makes sense of the role that is played by false traits in a simulation, andhighlights the similarities and differences between simulations and scientific instruments. (shrink)
A common response to those who question the Law of Non-Contradiction is that it is impossible to debate such a fundamental law of logic. The reasons for this response vary, but what seems to underlie them is the thought that there is a minimal set of logical resources without which rational debate is impossible. This chapter argues that this response is misguided. First, it defends non-apriorism in logic: the view that logic is in the same epistemic boat as other scientific (...) theories. It then offers an account of logical theory change in terms of this epistemology. The LNC is discussed in terms of this account of logical theory change, and it is shown that rational debate over this law can, and does, proceed. Finally, arguments for and against the LNC are discussed, and how and where non-a priori considerations arise in these arguments are illustrated. (shrink)
The physics and metaphysics of identity and individuality Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9463-7 Authors Don Howard, Department of Philosophy and Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA Bas C. van Fraassen, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Otávio Bueno, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA Elena Castellani, Department of Philosophy, University of Florence, Via Bolognese 52, 50139 (...) Florence, Italy Laura Crosilla, Department of Pure Mathematics, School of Mathematics, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT UK Steven French, Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK Décio Krause, Department of Philosophy, Federal University of Santa Catarina, 88040-900 Campus Trindade, Florianópolis, SC Brazil Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
There has always been interest in inconsistency in science, not least within science itself as scientists strive to devise a consistent picture of the universe. Some important early landmarks in this history are Copernicus’s criticism of the Ptolemaic picture of the heavens, Galileo’s claim that Aristotle’s theory of motion was inconsistent, and Berkeley’s claim that the early calculus was inconsistent. More recent landmarks include the classical theory of the electron, Bohr’s theory of the atom, and the on-going difficulty of reconciling (...) Einstein’s general relativity and quantum theory. But over the past few decades philosophers have taken a particular and increasing interest in inconsistency in science. In 2002 this culminated in the first collection of articles specifically dedicated to the topic: Inconsistency in Science, edited by Joke Meheus, published by Kluwer, and featuring twelve articles on a range of topics in the philosophy of science and mathematics.Since then philosophic. (shrink)
Hartry Field (1980) has developed an interesting nominalization strategy for Newtonian gravitation theory—a strategy that reformulates the theory without quantification over abstract entities. According to David Malament (1982), Field's strategy cannot be extended to quantum mechanics (QM), and so it only has a limited scope. In a recent work, Mark Balaguer has responded to Malament's challenge by indicating how QM can be nominalized, and by “doing much of the work needed to provide the nominalization” (Balaguer 1998, 114). In this paper, (...) I critically assess Balaguer's proposal, and argue that it ultimately fails. Balaguer's strategy is incompatible with a number of interpretations of QM, in particular with Bas van Fraassen's version of the modal interpretation. And given that Balaguer's strategy invokes physically real propensities, it is unclear whether it is even compatible with nominalism. I conclude that the nominalization of QM remains a major problem for the nominalist. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Suárez and Cartwright return to the example of London and London's construction of a model for superconductivity and raise a number of concerns against the account of this construction presented in French and Ladyman and elsewhere. In this discussion note, we examine the challenge they raised and offer our responses.
A first step is taken towards articulating a constructive empiricist philosophy of mathematics, thus extending van Fraassen's account to this domain. In order to do so, I adapt Field's nominalization program, making it compatible with an empiricist stance. Two changes are introduced: (a) Instead of taking conservativeness as the norm of mathematics, the empiricist countenances the weaker notion of quasi-truth (as formulated by da Costa and French), from which the formal properties of conservativeness are derived; (b) Instead of quantifying over (...) spacetime regions, the empiricist only admits quantification over occupied regions, since this is enough for his or her needs. (shrink)
We offer an overview of some ways of examining the connections between stance and rationality, by surveying recent work on four central topics: the very idea of a stance, the relations between stances and voluntarism, the metaphysics and epistemology that emerge once stances are brought to center stage, and the role that emotions and phenomenology play in the empirical stance.
In this paper, I provide an account of scientific representation that makes sense of the notion both at the nanoscale and at the quantum level: the partial mappings account. The account offers an extension of a proposal developed by R. I. G. Hughes in terms of denotation, demonstration, and interpretation (DDI). I first argue that the DDI account needs some amendments to accommodate representation of nano and quantum phenomena. I then introduce a generalized framework with the notions of unsharp denotation, (...) unsharp interpretation, and partial mappings. I conclude by arguing that the resulting view not only accommodates nano and quantum representations but also makes sense of representation by imaging in (scanning tunneling) microscopy. (shrink)
Yablo’s paradox is generated by the following (infinite) list of sentences (called the Yablo list): (s1) For all k > 1, sk is not true. (s2) For all k > 2, sk is not true. (s3) For all k > 3, sk is not true. . . . . . . . .
The issue of what consequences to draw from the existence of non-classical logical systems has been the subject of an interesting debate across a diversity of fields. In this paper the matter of alternative logics is considered with reference to a specific belief system and its propositions :the Azande are said to maintain beliefs about witchcraft which, when expressed propositionally, appear to be inconsistent. When the Azande have been presented with such inconsistencies, they either fail to see them as such (...) or else accept them as non-problematical. Is our knowledge of logical truths a relative and culturally determined phenomenon, or is there some (transcendent) criterion that allows us to adjudicate between alternative logical systems? The authors propose an approach for resolving disputes about the status of Azande reasoning which assumes a paraconsistent framework, thus providing a new perspective on this debate. (shrink)
As an illustration of the complexities involved in connecting physics and molecular biology at the nanoscale, in this paper I discuss two case studies from nanoscience. The first examines the use of a biological structure to build nanostructures in a controlled way. The second discusses the attempt to build a single molecular wire, and then decide whether such a wire is indeed conducting. After presenting the central features of each case study, I examine the role played in them by microscopic (...) imaging, the different styles of reasoning involved, and the various theoretical, methodological, and axiological differences. I conclude by arguing that, except for the probe microscopes that are used, there is very little in common between the two cases. At the nanoscale, physics and molecular biology seem to meet in a non-unified way. (shrink)