Realism, relativism and reference

Kargopoulos, Phillipos V. (1981)


The central thesis of this dissertation is that the recently proposed Causal Theories of Reference by K. Donnellan, H. Putnam, and especially S. Kripke provide support for Scientific Realism as developed in the theories of J.J.C. Smart, H. Putnam, and especially R. Boyd, on the face of the most serious challenge to scientific objectivity contained in the writings of the Relativists s. Toulmin, N.R. Hanson, T.S. Kuhn, and P. Feyerabend. I have argued accordingly that all the relativistic arguments are either weak or are reducible to a strong formal argument about the reference of scientific terms and the categoricity of scientific systems. This argument is shown to be even stronger because of the important role that reference plays in the objectivity of science. I proceed to show then that the employment of this argument by the Relativists rests on the Traditional Theory of Reference. In the final part, I argue that the Traditional Theory of Reference has become untenable, both on account of internal difficulties and because of advances in Modal Logic that show some of its basic tenets to be erroneous.