Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2021-22, Session 11

Scientific Fictional Properties and Their Explanatory Power
Vera Matarese (University of Bern)

19 November 2021, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – GMT) | Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: According to what I call the “orthodox view”, we should grant the existence of scientific properties like mass, charge, spin, because they have explanatory power. Without them, indeed, we would be unable to explain particle trajectories. In this talk, I will articulate a “fictionalist view” that regards these properties to be mere scientific fictions. Fictionalists have two options. The first is to deny, like Super-Humeans, that scientific properties have explanatory power. The second is to admit that they have explanatory power, but deny that, in virtue of this, we should grant them existence. I will take this second route. The challenge will then be to clarify how fictional properties can be explanatorily powerful without being part of our ontology.


The room has a limited number of seats. Pre-registration is required at <> until a day before the event. Note that this is an in-person event and everyone should wear a mask.