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Ontology after Carnap$
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Stephan Blatti and Sandra Lapointe

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199661985

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199661985.001.0001

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Carnap on Abstract and Theoretical Entities

Carnap on Abstract and Theoretical Entities

(p.200) 10 Carnap on Abstract and Theoretical Entities
Ontology after Carnap

Gregory Lavers

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Carnap’s views on the existence of abstract and theoretical entities. In the case of abstract objects, it shows the relation of Carnap’s position in “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology” (“ESO”) both to his earlier views on ontology and to his views on explication. The chapter pays particular attention to what Carnap himself identifies as the principal goal of “ESO”; that is, to defend the use of abstract objects as designata in semantics. To understand this, one must appreciate that Carnap sees Tarski as providing a successful explication of the notion of truth. The chapter then turns to the question of the status of theoretical entities (unobservables). It is agued that, while in the case of abstract objects there is a quite thorough rejection of nominalism, in the case of theoretical objects, Carnap displays some preference toward instrumentalism. This asymmetry in his positions toward nominalism and instrumentalism is shown to be unmotivated.

Keywords:   Carnap, explication, abstract objects, theoretical entities, truth, reference

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