Father Wallace has chosen two important questions for discussion in his paper: Are the sub-atomic particles of present-day physics real? And are they elementary? In answering these questions, he has attempted to steer a middle course between the extremes of realism and instrumentalism. The sub-atomic particles are described as the basic forms or determinations of an underlying substrate, which he identifies with the psi-function. As such, the particles exist extramentally; their characteristic quantities, such as spin and charge, are measured in experiments. Thus he ascribes to them an existence and reality not accorded to logical constructs. However, he does not regard elementary particles as having the same actual existence as the tables and chairs of ordinary experience.


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  1. 1.
    Ernest Nagel, The Structure of Science, New York 1961, p. 140.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Grover Maxwell, ‘The Ontological Status of Theoretical Entities’, in Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. Ill (H. Feigl and G. Maxwell, eds.), Minneapolis 1962, p. 21.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nagel, pp. 146–151.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Stephen Toulmin, The Philosophy of Science, New York 1953, pp. 138, 139.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ibid., p. 136.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    For a full discussion, see J. J. C. Smart, ‘The Reality of Theoretical Entities’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 34 (1956) 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Maxwell, p. 21.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company / Dordrecht-Holland 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary B. Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of PhilosophyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

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