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Abduction and the Scientific Realist Case for Properties

Tugby, M

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Traditionally, many arguments for realism about properties (universals or tropes) rely on a priori claims. The author argues that if we make use of an abductive principle that is commonly employed by scientific realists, a new argument for property realism can be formulated which is based firmly in scientific practice. The abductive principle says that we should believe in the existence of certain theoretical entities if they figure in the best explanation for what scientists observe. The scientific argument for property realism then says (roughly) that the best explanation for various behavioural patterns that physical scientists observe is that microscopic entities (such as electrons) instantiate stable, causally efficacious properties. After presenting the argument, the author defends it against possible objections. More generally, the article provides a case study for how science and metaphysics can work together to generate ontological claims.


Tugby, M. (2021). Abduction and the Scientific Realist Case for Properties. Grazer philosophische Studien, 98(1), 123-145.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 26, 2020
Online Publication Date Sep 5, 2020
Publication Date 2021-01
Deposit Date Oct 6, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 6, 2020
Journal Grazer Philosophische Studien - Internationale Zeitschrift für Analytische Philosophie
Print ISSN 0165-9227
Electronic ISSN 1875-6735
Publisher Brill Rodopi
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 98
Issue 1
Pages 123-145
Public URL


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