On the Nature and Norms of Theoretical Commitment

Paul Horwich

in From a Deflationary Point of View

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780199251261
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602252 | DOI:
On the Nature and Norms of Theoretical Commitment

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This essay opposes two forms of instrumentalism: a stronger and its weaker version. The strong version states that abductive inference is invalid, thus it is legitimate to renounce theoretical belief. It is argued that the instrumentalists’ proposal is incoherent since there is no difference between believing a theory and using it. According to the weaker form, the justification for theoretical belief can be nothing more than pragmatic since abductive inference is invalid. It is argued that contrary to initial appearances, the burden of proving that abductive inference is invalid lies with the instrumentalist and not the realist.

Keywords: instrumentalism; abductive inference; scientific theory; theoretical belief

Chapter.  6225 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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