Instrumental Theories: Possibilities and Space and Time

  • Ian Hinckfuss
Part of the Australasian Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 12)


Instrumentalism is the belief that good theories about unobservable things are at best merely instruments for generating new truths from ones that are already known. They are not themselves to be taken as true, but merely as useful in the prediction of observable consequences. Realism is the contrary belief that if there is no known falsehood among the logical entailments of some theory conjoined with any set of known propositions, then that theory and all its ontological implications are to be taken seriously. If what seems to be a truth preserving theory implies the existence of atoms and electrons, then we should believe in atoms and electrons, says the realist. If we do not believe in the existential entailments of a theory, then the theory should be discarded.


Noun Phrase Ontological Commitment Natural Deduction Conservative Extension Absolute Space 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Armstrong, D. M., Universals and Scientific Realism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  2. Benacerraf, P., ‘Mathematical Truth’, Journal of Philosophy LXX, 19, (1973): 661–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Butterfield, J. and Stirling, C., ‘Predicate Modifiers in Tense Logic’, Logique et Analyse 117–118 (1987): 31–50.Google Scholar
  4. Earman, J. ‘Who’s Afraid of Absolute Space?’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 48 (1970): 287–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Field, H., Science Without Numbers, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1980.Google Scholar
  6. Field, H., Realism, Mathematics and Modality, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1989.Google Scholar
  7. Frank, N.H., Introduction to Electricity and Optics, New York, McGraw-Hill, 1940.Google Scholar
  8. Friedman, M., Foundations of Space-Time Theories, Princeton University Press, 1983.Google Scholar
  9. Hinckfuss, I., ‘Suppositions, Presuppositions and Ontology’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23 (1993): 593–616.Google Scholar
  10. Hinckfuss, I., ‘Relevant Facts and Suppositions: A New Analysis of Conditionals’, Logique et Analyse 131–132 (1990): 215–41.Google Scholar
  11. Hempel, C.G., ‘Problems and Changes in the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning’ in Linsky, L., (ed.) Semantics and the Philosophy of Language, University of Illinois Press, 1952, pp. 163–85.Google Scholar
  12. Hughes, G.E. and Cresswell, M.J., An Introduction to Modal Logic, London, Methuen, 1968.Google Scholar
  13. Kratzer, A., ‘Partition and Revision: The Semantics of Counterfactuals’, Journal of Philosophical Logic 10 (1981): 201–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Malament, D., ‘Review of Field (1980)’, Journal of Philosophy 79 (1982): 523–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mellor, D.H., (ed.), Foundations, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978.Google Scholar
  16. Mellor, D.H., Matters of Metaphysics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.Google Scholar
  17. Nerlich, G., ‘Hands, Knees and Absolute Space’, Journal of Philosophy 70 (1973): 337–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nerlich, G., The Shape of Space, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976.Google Scholar
  19. Putnam, H., Reason, Truth and History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Hinckfuss
    • 1
  1. 1.University of QueenslandAustralia

Personalised recommendations