When empirical success implies theoretical reference: A structural correspondence theorem

Starting from a brief recapitulation of the contemporary debate on scientific realism, this paper argues for the following thesis : Assume a theory T has been empirically successful in a domain of application A, but was superseded later on by a superior theory T * , which was likewise successful in A but has an arbitrarily different theoretical superstructure. Then under natural conditions T contains certain theoretical expressions, which yielded T's empirical success, such that these T-expressions correspond (in A) to certain theoretical expressions of T * , and given T * is true, they refer indirectly to the entities denoted by these expressions of T * . The thesis is first motivated by a study of the phlogiston–oxygen example. Then the thesis is proved in the form of a logical theorem , and illustrated by further examples. The final sections explain how the correspondence theorem justifies scientific realism and work out the advantages of the suggested account. Introduction: Pessimistic Meta-induction vs. Structural Correspondence The Case of the Phlogiston Theory Steps Towards a Systematic Correspondence Theorem The Correspondence Theorem and Its Ontological Interpretation Further Historical Applications Discussion of the Correspondence Theorem: Objections and Replies Consequences for Scientific Realism and Comparison with Other Positions 7.1 Comparison with constructive empiricism 7.2 Major difference from standard scientific realism 7.3 From minimal realism and correspondence to scientific realism 7.4 Comparison with particular realistic positions CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axn049
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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.
C. van Fraassen Bas (2006). Structure: Its Shadow and Substance. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (2):275-307.
Rudolf Carnap (1936). Testability and Meaning. Philosophy of Science 3 (4):419-471.

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