Meaning, Truth, and Physics

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Szabo, Laszlo E.
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preprint description
A physical theory is a partially interpreted axiomatic formal system (L,S), where L is a formal language with some logical, mathematical and physical axioms, and with some derivation rules, and the semantics S is a relationship between the formulas of L and some states of affairs in the physical world. In our ordinary discourse, the formal system L is regarded as an abstract object or structure, the semantics S as something which involves the mental/conceptual realm. This view is of course incompatible with physicalism. How can physical theory be accommodated in a purely physical ontology? The aim of this paper is to outline an account for meaning and truth of physical theory, within the philosophical framework spanned by three doctrines: physicalism, empiricism, and the formalist philosophy of mathematics.