Structural correspondence, indirect reference, and partial truth: Phlogiston theory and Newtonian mechanics

Synthese 180 (2):103-120 (2011)
This paper elaborates on the following correspondence theorem (which has been defended and formally proved elsewhere): if theory T has been empirically successful in a domain of applications A, but was superseded later on by a different theory T* which was likewise successful in A, then under natural conditions T contains theoretical expressions which were responsible for T’s success and correspond (in A) to certain theoretical expressions of T*. I illustrate this theorem at hand of the phlogiston versus oxygen theories of combustion, and the classical versus relativistic theories of mass. The ontological consequences of the theorem are worked out in terms of the indirect reference and partial truth. The final section explains how the correspondence theorem may justify a weak version of scientific realism without presupposing the no-miracles argument.
Keywords No-miracles argument  Pessimistic meta-induction  Correspondence theorem  Indirect reference  Phlogiston theory  Newtonian mechanics
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References found in this work BETA
J. Ladyman (1998). What is Structural Realism? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 29 (3):409-424.

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Citations of this work BETA
Frederick Kroon (2011). Fictionalism in Metaphysics. Philosophy Compass 6 (11):786-803.
Anders Landig (2014). Partial Reference, Scientific Realism and Possible Worlds. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 47:1-9.

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