A functional analysis of scientific theories

Scientific theories are analyzed in terms of the role that they play in science rather than in terms of their logical structure. It is maintained that theories: provide descriptions of the fundamental features of their domains; on the basis of 1, explain non-fundamental features of their domains; provide a guide for further research in their domains. Any set of propositions that carries out these functions with respect to some domain counts as a theory. This view of theories is developed and defended, and provides the basis for reconsidering a number of issues in the philisophy of science. It is argued that theories need not be unrestrictedly universal with respect to space and time; that the distinction between observable and theoretical entities fails because observables do function as theoretical entities in scientific theories, that there is no genuine philosophical problem of reduction; that the notion of "levels" can be replaced by the notion of "domains"; and that theories are the basic unit of scientific knowledge
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DOI 10.1007/BF01809031
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K. R. Popper (1966). Conjectures and Refutations. Les Etudes Philosophiques 21 (3):431-434.

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