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Original scientific paper

Conceptual Relativity Meets Realism in Metaphysics

Tomáš Marvan

Full text: english pdf 205 Kb

page 23-37

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The paper adresses the relationship between ontological realism and Putnam’s thesis of conceptual relativity. The paper divides into three parts. The first part aims to reconstruct the notion of conceptual relativity, focusing on Putnam’s example involving mereological principles of individuation of objects. The second part points to some major shortcomings of the mereological example of conceptual relativity and then moves to a different version of conceptual relativity, which targets objects posited by mature scientific theories. I claim that the mereological and the scientific version of conceptual relativity are different in important respects and that two main types of conceptual relativity therefore need to be distinguished. In the third part, I show that conceptual relativity is not in tension with realism. More specifically, conceptual relativity is not in tension with “realism in metaphysics” that Putnam adopted in the last decade before his death.


Hilary Putnam, conceptual relativity, realism, optional languages

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