On the Propriety of Physical Theories as a Basis for Their Semantics

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Curiel, Erik
preprint description
I argue that an adequate semantics for physical theories must be grounded on an account of the way that a theory provides formal and conceptual resources appropriate for---that have propriety in---the construction of representations of the physical systems the theory purports to treat. I sketch a precise, rigorous definition of the required forms of propriety, and argue that semantic content accrues to scientific representations of physical systems primarily in virtue of the propriety of its resources. In particular, neither the adequacy (soundness, accuracy, truth, \ldots) of those representations nor any referential relations their terms may enter into play any fundamental role in the determination of the representation's semantic content. One consequence is that anything like traditional Tarskian semantics is inadequate for the task.