Retail Realism, the Individuation of Theoretical Entities, and the Case of the Muriatic Radical

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Retail realists advocate abandoning wholesale arguments, which concern the reality of theoretical entities in general, and embracing retail arguments, which concern the reality of particular kinds of theoretical entities. They can thus be realists about some and anti-realists about others. But realism about a kind of entity can take different forms depending on how retail realists individuate kinds of entities. This chapter introduces the notion of the inclusiveness of individuation: the more inclusively we individuate a kind of entity, the more theories there are in which it appears. The form of realism that retail realists accept regarding a particular kind of entity can be more selective or more encompassing depending on how inclusively they individuate that kind of entity. This chapter illustrates these ideas in terms of a case from the history of chemistry involving the hypothetical component of hydrochloric acid known as the muriatic radical.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationIndividuation, Process, and Scientific Practices
EditorsOtávio Bueno, Ruey-Lin Chen, Melinda Bonnie Fagan
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780190636814
StatePublished - 2018


  • scientific realism
  • individuation
  • history of chemistry
  • chlorine
  • hydrochloric acid
  • Carl Wilhelm Scheele
  • Antoine Lavoisier
  • Humphry Davy
  • Jöns Jacob Berzelius


Dive into the research topics of 'Retail Realism, the Individuation of Theoretical Entities, and the Case of the Muriatic Radical'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this