Theoretical Terms and Hybrid Theories of Reference

Dalila Serebrinsky, Bruno Borge

Abstract


Both descriptivism and the causal theory of reference fail to account for the meaning of theoretical terms in a way consistent with scientific realism. Faced with this problem, hybrid theories of reference have been developed. They combine features of both descriptivism and the causal theory and seek to capture the advantages of each. In this work, we critically analyze two strategies to articulate hybrid theories of reference in the face of the problem of the meaning of theoretical terms. They are exemplified by the proposals of Psillos and Kitcher. We argue that neither of these strategies is successful in articulating the descriptive and causal elements in a genuine hybrid theory of reference that satisfies the standards of scientific realism.


Keywords


causal descriptivism; direct reference; causal theory of reference; scientific realism; scientific change

References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22370/rhv2021iss17pp169-191

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