Browsing by Subject "deflationism"

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  • Pääkkönen, Juho (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    The thesis examines deflationist and substantivist formulations of theories of scientific representation within the context of philosophy of modelling. The main question considered is whether deflationary representation can be used to make sense of theoretical modelling in science. The focus is on Mauricio Suárez’s formulation of deflationary representation as a normative practice. The main argument of the thesis is that Suárez’s account can be used to conceptualise the norms which govern scientific modelling, and thus that deflationary representation can be a useful analytical concept in philosophy of modelling. The thesis consists of eight chapters. The first chapter briefly introduces the notions of theoretical modelling, representation, and deflationism about representation and describes the aims and structure of the thesis. The second chapter provides historical background for the subsequent discussion, focusing on the rise of the semantic view of theories as the predominant conception of scientific theories in the latter part of the 20th century. The chapter argues that the adoption of deflationism about representation can be seen as a reaction to the semantic view’s failure to solve problems facing its associated substantivist conception of the representational relationship between scientific models and the world. The third chapter examines in greater detail the problems involved in the substantivist conception of representation and classifies them as ontological, semantic, and epistemological problems. The problems are framed by introducing an account of modelling according to which models serve as surrogate systems in reasoning about phenomena in the world. The surrogate system view and the problems of representation are discussed using examples of modelling in the social sciences. The fourth chapter presents Suárez’s account of deflationism and distinguishes it from substantivism about representation. Suárez is argued to be contrasting his deflationism with a naïve dyadic formulation of substantivism which should be resisted. An amended formulation of substantivism is proposed, and five different forms of deflationism are distinguished on the basis of its rejection. The fifth and sixth chapters discuss two examples of theories of scientific representation, Suárez’s deflationary inferential conception and Michael Weisberg’s substantivist weighted feature matching account, in order to examine how they deal with the problems of representation presented in Chapter 3. Chapter 5 is dedicated to introducing the theories and arguing that they are deflationist and substantivist theories, respectively. Chapter 6 discusses the theories as answers to the problems of representation and articulates their strengths and weaknesses on this basis. In particular, Weisberg’s substantivist theory is argued to be problematic in its assumption that representation necessarily involves similarity, while Suárez’s deflationary conception is criticised for being vague in its characterisation of representation as a norm of inferential practice. The seventh chapter addresses the main question of the thesis, basing on the preceding discussion. Suárezian deflationism is contrasted with the roles that substantivism and another version of deflationism, stipulationism, reserve for representation in philosophy of modelling. The chapter argues that Suárez’s deflationism gives a more informative characterisation of representation than stipulationism, but is still deflationary in its characterisation of representation in terms of normative practices. Chapter eight concludes and proposes that the future development of Suárezian deflationism requires that the notion of normative practice be further clarified.
  • Koivisto, Tommi (2000)
    This paper aims to investigate the conceptual link between moral judgements and truth - that is, whether moral judgements in general admit of truth or falsehood. Many moral philosophers have in fact approached this question with varying degrees of scepticism: some have denied that moral judgements can be true or false, while others have been more receptive to the idea that there are moral truths. In this context, philosophers have also discussed themes such as moral objectivity, status of ethical theories, and meta-ethics. Since the literature on this topic is vast and often technical, the paper is limited to three distinct points of view: (1) emotivism and the deflationary theory of truth; (2) David Wiggins's concept of plain truth and its application to moral judgements; and (3) R.M. Hare's and Bernard Williams's contrasting positions on moral objectivity and truth. Each perspective is discussed in a separate section, with emphasis on detailed analysis of arguments. Section (1) begins with A.J. Ayer's classic account of emotivism, a suitable introduction to modern versions of this ethical theory. This is followed by a discussion of the deflationary theory of truth. The argument is that emotivism's claim to be both an accurate analysis of moral language and a viable ethical theory is undermined by controversial assumptions about truth and moral reasoning. Authors mentioned are Bruce Waller, Peter Geach, Paul Boghossian, David Stoljar, Robert Kraut, R.M. Hare, John Mackie, and Simon Blackburn. Section (2) focuses on David Wiggins's account of truth and its significance to moral judgements. The subsequent analysis stresses the difficulties that face Wiggins's project - especially, his concept of plain truth. Authors mentioned are Richard Taylor, Jonathan Lear and Wilfred Hodges. Section (3) outlines R.M. Hare's and Bernard Williams's view of moral objectivity and truth. The critical aim is to contrast their positions with the previous sections. Authors mentioned are Thomas Nagel and Immanuel Kant. The paper concludes with a summary of key arguments and the suggestion that there is no simple, convenient resolution to the issue of moral judgements and truth.