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Inferring particles

Lewis, Peter J. (2017) Inferring particles. [Preprint]

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In a recent book, Anjan Chakravartty builds a case for a particular conception of the relationship of science to metaphysics. The main novel feature in his account of scientific ontology is his construction of a metaphysical distance measure. Some ontological claims are close to the science that informs those claims, and some are further away. The distance is a measure of the epistemic risk one takes in asserting the claim: the further from the empirical base, the greater the risk. But conversely, claims far from the empirical base can serve explanatory and unificatory purposes regarding claims closer in. Since different philosophers have different (reasonable) attitudes towards epistemic risk, Chakravartty endorses a pluralism about scientific ontology. Chakravartty illustrates his arguments concerning scientific ontology by considering what we can infer from the Standard Model of particle physics concerning the ontological status of the structures and entities it describes. I argue that, while this case study initially appears to support Chakravartty’s arguments, on closer inspection it suggests a more deflationary approach to scientific ontology.

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Item Type: Preprint
Lewis, Peter
Keywords: Structural realism, deflationism, particles, standard model
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Depositing User: Peter J. Lewis
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2018 02:20
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2018 02:20
Item ID: 14419
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Date: 12 December 2017

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