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73. Theories


Subject Philosophy

Key-Topics science

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230205.2001.00076.x


Some decades ago, Fred Suppe (1974, p. 3) remarked that “it is only a slight exaggeration to claim that a philosophy of science is little more than an analysis of theories and their roles in the scientific enterprise.” The truth of this remark is attested by the fact that so many topics in contemporary philosophy of science continue to be framed in terms of theories. The issue of realism and instrumentalism, for example, is typically understood as the question of whether various terms in statements making up scientific theories refer to real objects or merely serve the role of facilitating inferences among claims about observations (see realism and instrumentalism ). Again, reduction has often been seen as depending on whether statements in one theory can be logically deduced from those in another theory (see reductionism ). Similarly, scientific change has been understood as the replacement of one theory by another (see scientific change ). Finally, relativism is typically portrayed as the view that the choice of one theory over another has no “objective” or “rational” basis, but depends merely on the interests of those with the power to enforce their decision (see relativism ). In fact, the framing of these and many other issues not only centers on relationships involving theories, it often presumes a particular account of the general nature of theories. So ingrained has ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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