•  794
    I argue that a certain type of naturalist should not accept a prominent version of the no-miracles argument (NMA). First, scientists (usually) do not accept explanations whose explanans-statements neither generate novel predictions nor unify apparently disparate established claims. Second, scientific realism (as it appears in the NMA) is an explanans that makes no new predictions and fails to unify disparate established claims. Third, many proponents of the NMA explicitly adopt a naturalism that…Read more
  •  578
    Many have tackled the question ‘What (if anything) is analytic philosophy?’ I will not attempt to answer this vexed question. Rather, I address a smaller, more manageable set of interrelated questions: first, when and how did people begin using the label ‘analytic philosophy’? Second, how did those who used this label understand it? Third, why did many philosophers we today classify as analytic initially resist being grouped together under the single category of ‘analytic philosophy’? Finally…Read more
  •  466
    Was Tarski's Theory of Truth Motivated by Physicalism?
    History and Philosophy of Logic 25 (4): 265-280. 2004.
    Many commentators on Alfred Tarski have, following Hartry Field, claimed that Tarski's truth-definition was motivated by physicalism—the doctrine that all facts, including semantic facts, must be reducible to physical facts. I claim, instead, that Tarski did not aim to reduce semantic facts to physical ones. Thus, Field's criticism that Tarski's truth-definition fails to fulfill physicalist ambitions does not reveal Tarski to be inconsistent, since Tarski's goal is not to vindicate physicalism. …Read more
  •  303
    Can the Pessimistic Induction be Saved from Semantic Anti-Realism about Scientific Theory?
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (3): 521-548. 2014.
    Scientific anti-realists who appeal to the pessimistic induction (PI) claim that the theoretical terms of past scientific theories often fail to refer to anything. But on standard views in philosophy of language, such reference failures prima facie lead to certain sentences being neither true nor false. Thus, if these standard views are correct, then the conclusion of the PI should be that significant chunks of current theories are truth-valueless. But that is semantic anti-realism about scienti…Read more
  •  286
    ‘‘Quine’s Evolution from ‘Carnap’s Disciple’ to the Author of “Two Dogmas
    Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 1 (2): 291-316. 2011.
    Recent scholarship indicates that Quine’s “Truth by Convention” does not present the radical critiques of analytic truth found fifteen years later in “Two Dogmas of Empiricism.” This prompts a historical question: what caused Quine’s radicalization? I argue that two crucial components of Quine’s development can be traced to the academic year 1940–1941, when he, Russell, Carnap, Tarski, Hempel, and Goodman were all at Harvard together. First, during those meetings, Quine recognizes that Carnap ha…Read more
  •  285
    There are certain explanations that scientists do not accept, even though such explanations do not conflict with observation, logic, or other scientific theories. I argue that a common version of the no-miracles argument (NMA) for scientific realism relies upon just such an explanation. First, scientists (usually) do not accept explanations whose explanans neither generates novel predictions nor unifies apparently disparate phenomena. Second, scientific realism (as it appears in the NMA) is an e…Read more
  •  229
    Tarski's Nominalism
    In Douglas Patterson (ed.), New Essays on Tarski and Philosophy, Oxford University Press. 2008.
    Alfred Tarski was a nominalist. But he published almost nothing on his nominalist views, and until recently the only sources scholars had for studying Tarski’s nominalism were conversational reports from his friends and colleagues. However, a recently-discovered archival resource provides the most detailed information yet about Tarski’s nominalism. Tarski spent the academic year 1940-41 at Harvard, along with many of the leading lights of scientific philosophy: Carnap, Quine, Hempel, Goodman,…Read more
  •  178
    A book review of Amie Thomasson's defense of Neo-Carnapianism in her "Ontology Made Easy" (2015, Oxford UP).
  •  164
    The identical rivals response to underdetermination
    In P. D. Magnus Jacob Busch (ed.), New Waves in Philosophy of Science, Palgrave-macmillan. 2009.
    The underdetermination of theory by data obtains when, inescapably, evidence is insufficient to allow scientists to decide responsibly between rival theories. One response to would-be underdetermination is to deny that the rival theories are distinct theories at all, insisting instead that they are just different formulations of the same underlying theory; we call this the identical rivals response. An argument adapted from John Norton suggests that the response is presumptively always appropria…Read more
  •  151
    This document collects discussion and commentary on issues raised in the workshop by its participants. Contributors are: Greg Frost-Arnold, David Harker, P. D. Magnus, John Manchak, John D. Norton, J. Brian Pitts, Kyle Stanford, Dana Tulodziecki
  •  125
    The Pessimistic Induction over the history of science argues that because most past theories considered empirically successful in their time turn out to be not even approximately true, most present ones probably aren’t approximately true either. But why did past scientists accept those incorrect theories? Kyle Stanford’s ‘Problem of Unconceived Alternatives’ is one answer to that question: scientists are bad at exhausting the space of plausible hypotheses to explain the evidence available to t…Read more
  •  102
    Suppose one believes that the historical record of discarded scientific theories provides good evidence against scientific realism. Should one adopt Kyle Stanford’s specific version of this view, based on the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives? I present reasons for answering this question in the negative. In particular, Stanford’s challenge cannot use many of the prima facie strongest pieces of historical evidence against realism, namely: superseded theories whose successors were explicitly co…Read more
  •  94
    Confused Terms in Ordinary Language
    Journal of Logic, Language and Information 29 (2): 197-219. 2020.
    Confused terms appear to signify more than one entity. Carnap maintained that any putative name that is associated with more than one object in a relevant universe of discourse fails to be a genuine name. Although many philosophers have agreed with Carnap, they have not always agreed among themselves about the truth-values of atomic sentences containing such terms. Some hold that such atomic sentences are always false, and others claim they are always truth-valueless. Field maintained that confu…Read more
  •  70
    Two central and well-known philosophical goals of the logical empiricists are the unification of science and the elimination of metaphysics. I argue, via textual analysis, that these two apparently distinct planks of the logical empiricist party platform are actually intimately related. From the 1920’s through 1950, one abiding criterion for judging whether an apparently declarative assertion or descriptive term is metaphysical is that that assertion or term cannot be incorporated into a languag…Read more
  •  67
    From the Pessimistic Induction to Semantic Anti-realism
    Philosophy of Science 78 (5): 1131-1142. 2011.
    The Pessimistic Induction (PI) states: most past scientific theories were radically mistaken; therefore, current theories are probably similarly mistaken. But mistaken in what way? On the usual understanding, such past theories are false. However, on widely held views about reference and presupposition, many theoretical claims of previous scientific theories are neither true nor false. And if substantial portions of past theories are truth-valueless, then the PI leads to semantic antirealism. Bu…Read more
  •  57
    Alexander Rosenberg recently claimed (1997) that developmental biology is currently being reduced to molecular biology. cite several concrete biological examples that are intended to impugn Rosenberg's claim. I first argue that although Laubichler and Wagner's examples would refute a very strong reductionism, a more moderate reductionism would escape their attacks. Next, taking my cue from the antireductionist's perennial stress on the importance of spatial organization, I describe one form an e…Read more
  •  55
    Putting the ‘empiricism’ in ‘logical empiricism’: the director’s cut Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9444-x Authors Greg Frost-Arnold, Department of Philosophy, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY 14456, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796
  •  53
    Too Much Reference: Semantics for Multiply Signifying Terms
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 37 (3): 239-257. 2008.
    The logic of singular terms that refer to nothing, such as ‘Santa Claus,’ has been studied extensively under the heading of free logic. The present essay examines expressions whose reference is defective in a different way: they signify more than one entity. The bulk of the effort aims to develop an acceptable formal semantics based upon an intuitive idea introduced informally by Hartry Field and discussed by Joseph Camp; the basic strategy is to use supervaluations. This idea, as it stands, enc…Read more
  •  37
    Replies to Creath, Ebbs, and Lavers (review)
    Metascience 25 (1): 43-49. 2016.
    Author's replies to an APA book symposium on "Carnap, Tarski, and Quine at Harvard."
  •  36
    During the academic year 1940-1941, several giants of analytic philosophy congregated at Harvard, holding regular private meetings, with Carnap, Tarski, and Quine. Carnap, Tarski, and Quine at Harvard allows the reader to act as a fly on the wall for their conversations. Carnap took detailed notes during his year at Harvard. This book includes both a German transcription of these shorthand notes and an English translation in the appendix section. Carnap’s notes cover a wide range of topics, but …Read more
  •  27
    Review of Alan Richardson, Thomas Uebel (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Logical Empiricism (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (5). 2008.
    For much of the second half of the 20th Century, the primary role logical empiricism played was that of the argumentative foil. The 'received view' on a given topic (especially in philosophy of science, logic, or language) was frequently identified with some supposedly dogmatic tenet of logical empiricism. However, during the last twenty-five years, scholars have paid serious, sustained attention to what the logical positivists, individually and collectively, actually said. Early scholarship on …Read more
  •  10
    Theoretical Virtues in Science: Uncovering Reality through Theory (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2018. 2018.
    This is a book review of Samuel Schindler's _Theoretical Virtues in Science_.