Date of Award
Master of Arts
Michael N Liston
Peter van Elswyk, Joshua Spencer
interpretation, interpretations of quantum mechanics, mathematical objects, nominalization, platonism, scientific theories
Nominalization is the process which removes abstract objects from our scientific theories. But what makes a proposed nominalization a good or successful one? In the paper “Is It Possible to Nominalize Quantum Mechanics,” Otávio Bueno develops criteria for any successful nominalization. In the present work, I discuss one of these criteria that I call the “interpretation criterion.” It claims that a nominalization of a scientific theory should be neutral with regards to the interpretations of that theory. I argue that the interpretation criterion is problematic, and that it should be replaced with an alternative criterion of nominalization. I first explicate the background for understanding Bueno’s goal in establishing his criteria for nominalization programs and describe the criteria themselves. Then, I launch my critique against the interpretation criterion by arguing that it makes nominalization impossible, even when specified in its best form. Lastly, I offer my positive picture of the appropriate relationship between nominalization and interpretation. The positive picture is, roughly, that we should not seek global nominalization criteria as Bueno does, but instead should try to nominalize our scientific theories in a piecemeal fashion.
DeWitt, Jason Alen, "Nominalization and Interpretation: a Critique of Global Nominalization Criteria" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 2173.