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Mathematics and Reality$
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Mary Leng

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280797.001.0001

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Naturalism and Ontology

Naturalism and Ontology

Chapter:
(p.20) 2 Naturalism and Ontology
Source:
Mathematics and Reality
Author(s):

Mary Leng (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280797.003.0002

This chapter clarifies and motivates the naturalist premise of the indispensability argument, which holds that we should look to our best scientific theories to discover what we have reason to believe. It distinguishes Quinean naturalism from an even more modest form of naturalism, according to which philosophers should hold back from questioning the truth of utterances made in the context of successful scientific theorizing. And it considers the debate between Carnap and Quine over ontological questions, following Quine in accepting that practical reasons to speak as if there are Fs can sometimes be viewed as providing evidence for the existence of Fs. It notes that Quine's claim that practical reasons are always evidential can only be plausible when applied to our best scientific theories, from which merely practical ways of speaking have been ironed out, hence the focus on the indispensability of mathematics to our best theories.

Keywords:   naturalism, ontology, philosophical modesty, Rudolf Carnap, W. V. O. Quine, practical, evidential

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