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Philosophical Papers Volume I$
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David Lewis

Print publication date: 1983

Print ISBN-13: 9780195032048

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195032047.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 October 2021

How to Define Theoretical Terms

How to Define Theoretical Terms

Chapter:
(p.78) Six How to Define Theoretical Terms
Source:
Philosophical Papers Volume I
Author(s):

David Lewis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195032047.003.0006

Lewis defends an account of the role of theoretical terms in scientific theories. Drawing on the work of Ramsey and Carnap, Lewis advocates the view that theoretical terms are implicitly defined by the scientific theories in which they figure; their meanings are to be characterized in functional terms, by reference to causal roles. According to Lewis, this understanding of theoretical terms (which would become influential in the development of functionalist theories of the mind) enables us to understand how one scientific theory may be reduced to another.

Keywords:   bridge laws, Rudolf Carnap, causal role, functional definition, functionalism, holism, Frank Ramsey, reduction, scientific theory, theoretical terms

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