Experimental Individuation and Retail Arguments

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Chen, Ruey-Lin; Hricko, Jonathon
conference paper description
Magnus and Callender (2004) argue that we ought to focus on retail arguments, which are arguments regarding the existence of particular kinds of theoretical entities, as opposed to theoretical entities in general. However, scientists are the ones who put forward retail arguments, and it’s unclear how philosophers can engage with such arguments. We argue that philosophers can engage with retail arguments by providing criteria that they must satisfy in order to demonstrate the existence of theoretical entities. We put forward experimental individuation as such a criterion---when scientists experimentally individuate an entity, a realist conclusion about that entity is warranted.