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The role of existential quantification in scientific realism

The role of existential quantification in scientific realism
The role of existential quantification in scientific realism
Scientific realism holds that the terms in our scientific theories refer and that we should believe in their existence. This presupposes a certain understanding of quantification, namely that it is ontologically committing, which I challenge in this paper. I argue that the ontological loading of the quantifiers is smuggled in through restricting the domains of quantification, without which it is clear to see that quantifiers are ontologically neutral. Once we remove domain restrictions, domains of quantification can include non-existent things, as they do in scientific theorizing. Scientific realism would therefore require redefining without presupposing a view of ontologically committing quantification.
0031-8191
351-367
Finn, Suki
d74d44c0-38f4-4cc7-8807-92ca56c88783
Finn, Suki
d74d44c0-38f4-4cc7-8807-92ca56c88783

Finn, Suki (2017) The role of existential quantification in scientific realism. Philosophy, 92 (361), 351-367. (doi:10.1017/S0031819117000031).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Scientific realism holds that the terms in our scientific theories refer and that we should believe in their existence. This presupposes a certain understanding of quantification, namely that it is ontologically committing, which I challenge in this paper. I argue that the ontological loading of the quantifiers is smuggled in through restricting the domains of quantification, without which it is clear to see that quantifiers are ontologically neutral. Once we remove domain restrictions, domains of quantification can include non-existent things, as they do in scientific theorizing. Scientific realism would therefore require redefining without presupposing a view of ontologically committing quantification.

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Accepted/In Press date: 22 December 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 17 April 2017
Published date: July 2017
Organisations: Philosophy

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 404187
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/404187
ISSN: 0031-8191
PURE UUID: 16ec9a5b-1c42-43b9-91a4-72137df1387a

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Date deposited: 03 Jan 2017 14:25
Last modified: 27 Apr 2022 05:20

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Author: Suki Finn

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