these individuals are real individuals in a deep metaphysical sense. While it is certainly right to point out that one and the same physical system can be considered either as a brain (qua individual) or a collection of neurons (qua aggregate), this observation need not lead us to wonder which of these ways of looking at things (if either) is the right one. Some patterns are easier to discern from the former perspective, while others are easier to discern from the latter. For the purposes of what we're concerned with here, it seems to me, we can stop with that fact—there is no need to delve more deeply into metaphysical questions. Insofar as I am taking any position at all on questions of ontology, it is one that is loosely akin to Don Ross' "rainforest realism:" a systematized version of Dennett's "stance" stance toward ontology. Ross' picture, like the one I have presented here, depicts a scientific project that is unified by goal and subject matter, though not necessarily by methodology or apparatus. It is one on which we are allowed to be frankly instrumentalist in our choice of objects—our choice of individuals—but still able to be thoroughly realists about the relations that hold between those objects—the patterns in how the objects change over time. This metaphysical position is a natural extension of the account of science that I have given here, and one about which much remains to be said. To engage deeply with it would take us too far afield into metaphysics of science, though; let us, then, keep our eye on the ball, and content ourselves with observing that there is at least the potential for a broad metaphysical position based on this pragmatically-motivated account of science. Articulating that position, though, must remain a project for another time.
1.5 Summary and Conclusion: Exorcising Feynman's Ghost
The story of science is a story of progress through collaboration: progress toward a more
- See Ross (2000) and Chapter Four of Ladyman et. al. (2007), as well as Dennett (1991)