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McGowan, M.K. The Metaphysics of Squaring Scientific Realism with Referential Indeterminacy
1999, Erkenntnis 50(1): 87-94.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez
Introduction: Scientific realism and the claim that there is radical referential indeterminacy are important and compelling philosophical theses. Each thesis has advocates and for good reason. On cursory examination, however, it seems that these theses are at odds with one another. It seems that one cannot both claim that science seeks to describe an objective reality and yet deny that reality is objectively structured in such a way as to determine the referents of our terms. Since there are compelling reasons in favour of each thesis and since it appears that some philosophers actually advocate both theses (Quine himself may be one such example), finding a way to square the theses would be multiply advantageous. On this paper, the author argues that despite the prima facie tension between them, these theses are indeed cotenable.

Comment: Interesting paper that lies on the intersection between philosophy of science and philosophy of language. It could be used as a secondary reading for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science, in particular for lectures on the topic of scientific realism. The level of difficulty is not high, but it is more recommendable for students who have been introduced before to concepts such as realism, subjective supervientism and referential indeterminacy.

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