The Institute of Philosophy, RCH, cordially invites you to the upcoming talk

Carl Hoefer (University of Barcelona)

Scientific realism and direct reference to unobservable natural kinds

The talk will be online and is based on a paper that is a joint work with Genoveva Martí.


In this talk I continue my defense of a version of scientific realism, Tautological Scientific Realism (TSR), that rests on the claim that, excluding some areas of fundamental physics about which doubts are entirely justified, many areas of contemporary science cannot be coherently imagined to be false other than via postulation of radically skeptical scenarios, which are not relevant to the realism debate in philosophy of science. I will discuss, specifically, the threats of meaning change and reference failure associated with the Kuhnian tradition, which depend on a descriptivist approach to meaning, and will argue that descriptivism is not the right account of the meaning and reference of theoretical terms.

My co-author, Genoveva Martí, and I suggest that an account along the lines of the causal-historical theory of reference (in the tradition of Kripke and Putnam) provides a more faithful picture of how terms for unobservable theoretical entities and properties come to refer. We argue that this picture works particularly well for TSR, and handles the much-discussed problem case of ‘phlogiston’ better than rival accounts such as Psillos’ causal descriptivism.

Commentator: Márton Gömöri (Institute of Philosophy, RCH)

Date: 26 January 2021 (Tuesday), 2pm

You can join by clicking on the link below.

The Zoom Meeting ID for this talk is 924 7405 7393 and Passcode is 000000

The recording can be accessed via the following link: