Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Sebastian Gardner, David Lewis and Chistoph Scheibler

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4 ideas

14. Science / B. Scientific Theories / 8. Ramsey Sentences
The Ramsey sentence of a theory says that it has at least one realisation [Lewis]
     Full Idea: The Ramsey sentence of a theory says that it has at least one realisation.
     From: David Lewis (How to Define Theoretical Terms [1970], V)
A Ramsey sentence just asserts that a theory can be realised, without saying by what [Lewis]
     Full Idea: If we specify a theory with all of its terms, and then replace all of those terms with variables, we can then say that some n-tuples of entities can satisfy this formula. This Ramsey sentence then says the theory is realised, without specifying by what.
     From: David Lewis (How to Define Theoretical Terms [1970], II)
     A reaction: [I have compressed Lewis, and cut out the symbolism]
There is a method for defining new scientific terms just using the terms we already understand [Lewis]
     Full Idea: I contend that there is a general method for defining newly introduced terms in a scientific theory, one which uses only the old terms we understood beforehand.
     From: David Lewis (How to Define Theoretical Terms [1970], Intro)
     A reaction: Lewis is game is to provide bridge laws for a reductive account of nature, without having to introduce something entirely new to achieve it. The idea of bridge laws in scientific theory is less in favour these days.
It is better to have one realisation of a theory than many - but it may not always be possible [Lewis]
     Full Idea: A uniquely realised theory is, other things being equal, certainly more satisfactory than a multiply realised theory. We should insist on unique realisation as a standard of correctness unless it is a standard too high to be met.
     From: David Lewis (How to Define Theoretical Terms [1970], III)
     A reaction: The point is that rewriting a theory as Ramsey sentences just says there is at least one realisation, and so it doesn't meet the highest standards for scientific theories. The influence of set-theoretic model theory is obvious in this approach.