Philosophy of Science 74 (2):195-228 (2007)
|Abstract||Although the recent emphasis on models in philosophy of science has been an important development, the consequence has been a shift away from more traditional notions of theory. Because the semantic view defines theories as families of models and because much of the literature on “scientific” modeling has emphasized various degrees of independence from theory, little attention has been paid to the role that theory has in articulating scientific knowledge. This paper is the beginning of what I hope will be a redress of the imbalance. I begin with a discussion of some of the difficulties faced by various formulations of the semantic view not only with respect to their account of models but also with their definition of a theory. From there I go on to articulate reasons why a notion of theory is necessary for capturing the structure of scientific knowledge and how one might go about formulating such a notion in terms of different levels of representation and explanation. The context for my discussion is the BCS account of superconductivity, a `theory' that was, and still is, sometimes referred to as a `model'. BCS provides a nice focus for the discussion because it illuminates various features of the theory/model relationship that seem to require a robust notion of theory that is not easily captured by the semantic account.|
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