more from Penelope Maddy

Single Idea 18205

[catalogued under 7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 10. Ontological Commitment / e. Ontological commitment problems]

Full Idea

The case of atoms makes it clear that the indispensable appearance of an entity in our best scientific theory is not generally enough to convince scientists that it is real.

Gist of Idea

The theoretical indispensability of atoms did not at first convince scientists that they were real


Penelope Maddy (Naturalism in Mathematics [1997], II.6)

Book Reference

Maddy,Penelope: 'Naturalism in Mathematics' [OUP 2000], p.143

A Reaction

She refers to the period between Dalton and Einstein, when theories were full of atoms, but there was strong reluctance to actually say that they existed, until the direct evidence was incontrovertable. Nice point.