Ontological Elimination

Lawrence Sklar

in Theory and Truth

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780199251575
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598449 | DOI:
 Ontological Elimination

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Although science often posits new entities and features of the world, scientific progress is also made by moves that eliminate previously posited features. Such eliminativist programme within science are always motivated by specific difficulties (mathematical, conceptual, and empirical) with existing theories. The eliminativist programme has many aspects in common with the philosophical positivist programme of eliminating unobservables from our theoretical posits, in principle. Looking closely at this may cast some doubt on ‘naturalist’ views about how science can do without ‘first philosophy’. But we may also come to a clearer understanding of the limits and legitimacy of philosophical global eliminationism by seeing how such programmes work locally within science.

Keywords: eliminationism; eliminativism; first philosophy; naturalism; positivism; scientific theory; unobservables

Chapter.  9919 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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