Volume 34, Issue 2, May 2019
Scientific Models and Metalinguistic Negotiation
The aim of this paper is to explore the possibility that at least some ontological dispute are better understood as what David Plunkett and Timothy Sundell have called ‘metalinguistic negotiations’. I will take the debate between the dominant approaches of realism and anti-realism (especially fictionalism) about the ontological status of scientific models as a case-study. I will argue that such a debate is best seen as normatively motivated, insofar as a normative and non-factual question may be involved in it: how ought the relevant piece of language to be used? Even though I will generally assess the prospects for a broadly deflationist approach, I shall outline a sense in which such a dispute can be recast as ‘minimally substantive’.