In: J. Dutant, D. Fassio and A. Meylan (Eds.) Liber Amicorum Pascal Engel (2014)
AbstractThis paper examines causal theories of reference with respect to how plausible an account they give of non-physical natural kind terms such as ‘gene’ as well as of the truth of the associated theoretical claims. I first show that reference fixism for ‘gene’ fails. By this, I mean the claim that the reference of ‘gene’ was stable over longer historical periods, for example, since the classical period of transmission genetics. Second, I show that the theory of partial reference does not do justice to some widely held realist intuitions about classical genetics. This result is at loggerheads with the explicit goals usually associated with partial theories of reference, which is to defend a realist semantics for scientific terms. Thirdly, I show that, contrary to received wisdom and perhaps contrary to physics and chemistry, neither reference fixism nor partial reference are necessary in order to hold on to scientific realism about biology. I pinpoint the reasons for this in the nature of biological kinds, which do not even remotely resemble natural kinds (i.e., Lockean real essences) as traditionally conceived.
Added to PP
Historical graph of downloads
References found in this work
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
Similar books and articles
Biological Kinds and the Causal Theory of Reference.Ingo Brigandt - 2004 - In J. C. Marek & M. E. Reicher (eds.), Experience and Analysis: Papers of the 27th International Wittgenstein Symposium. Kirchberg am Wechsel: Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society. pp. 58–60.
The Epistemic Goal of a Concept: Accounting for the Rationality of Semantic Change and Variation.Ingo Brigandt - 2010 - Synthese 177 (1):19-40.
An Alternative to Kitcher's Theory of Conceptual Progress and His Account of the Change of the Gene Concept.Ingo Brigandt - 2004
Natural Kinds: Direct Reference, Realism, and the Impossibility of Necessary a Posteriori Truth.Chenyang Li - 1993 - Review of Metaphysics 47 (2):261-76.
Reference Failure and Scientific Realism: A Response to the Meta-Induction.D. Cummiskey - 1992 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (1):21-40.
Intuitions, Externalism, and Conceptual Analysis.Jussi Haukioja - 2009 - Studia Philosophica Estonica 2 (2):81-93.
Truth, Reference, and Realism.Zsolt Novak & Andras Simonyi (eds.) - 2010 - Central European University Press.
Natural Kinds: (Thick) Essentialism or Promiscuous Realism?Nigel Leary - 2007 - Philosophical Writings 34 (1):5 - 13.
Natural Kinds and Biological Realisms.Michael Devitt - 2011 - In Michael O'Rourke, Joseph Keim Campbell & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints: Natural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science. MIT Press.