About this topic
Summary A variety of topics are covered under this rubric.  In general, most philosophical questions relating to the language of science are of a broadly semantic nature, having to do with the meaning, meaningfulness or reference of scientific discourse about the world.  The question of the meaningfulness (or cognitive significance) of scientific discourse arose in the context of the logical positivists of the Vienna Circle, who proposed a principle of verification (or verifiability theory of meaning).  The logical empiricist successors of logical positivism sought to analyze the semantic content of theoretical discourse on the basis of the connection between theoretical discourse and observational vocabulary, for example, in terms of correspondence rules.  In the context of the "historical turn" associated with Thomas Kuhn, N.R. Hanson and Paul Feyerabend, the idea of meaning variance (conceptual change) came to the fore, as it was argued that the meaning of observational vocabulary depends upon theoretical context, and undergoes variation in the transition between theories.  The idea of meaning variance gave rise to the semantic version of the claim of the incommensurability of scientific theories.  In response to the problem of meaning variance, a number of authors (e.g. Scheffler, Putnam, Kripke) advocated an emphasis on the reference of scientific terms.  In the attempt to show that reference may survive theoretical change, appeal was often made to the "new" or "causal" theory of reference advocated by Kripke.
Key works Two classic references for logical positivist and empiricist approaches to scientific language are Carnap 1936 and Schlick 1936.  Feyerabend's early argument for meaning variance may be found in Feyerabend 1957.  Putnam discusses the question of meaning change in science, proposing a turn to reference in Putnam 1973.  Michael Devitt deals with topics relating to semantic incommensurability in Devitt 1979.  Thomas Kuhn offers his response to some criticism directed against the claim of incommensurability in Kuhn 1983.
Introductions Sankey 2000
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  1. New Account of Empirical Claims in Structuralism.Holger Andreas - 2010 - Synthese 176 (3):311 - 332.
    In this paper, a new account of empirical claims in structuralism is developed. Its novelty derives from the use that is made of the linguistic approach to scientific theories despite the presumed incompatibility of structuralism with that approach. It is shown how the linguistic approach can be applied to the framework of structuralism if the semantic foundations of that approach are refined to do justice to the doctrine of indirect interpretation of theoretical terms. This doctrine goes back to Carnap but (...)
  2. Experimentation and the Meaning of Scientific Concepts.Theodore Arabatzis - 2012 - In Uljana Feest & Friedrich Steinle (eds.), Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice. De Gruyter. pp. 3--149.
  3. Knowledge and Reference in Empirical Science.Jody Azzouni - 2013 - Routledge.
    _Knowledge and Reference in Empirical Science_ is a fascinating study of the bounds between science and language: in what sense, and of what, does science provide knowledge? Is science an instrument only distantly related to what's real? Can the language of science be used to adequately describe the truth? In this book, Jody Azziouni investigates the technology of science - the actual forging and exploiting of causal links, between ourselves and what we endeavor to know and understand.
  4. Knowledge and Reference in Empirical Science.Jody Azzouni - 2004 - Routledge.
    _Knowledge and Reference in Empirical Science_ is a fascinating study of the bounds between science and language: in what sense, and of what, does science provide knowledge? Is science an instrument only distantly related to what's real? Can the language of science be used to adequately describe the truth? In this book, Jodi Azziouni investigates the technology of science - the actual forging and exploiting of causal links, between ourselves and what we endeavor to know and understand.
  5. Steiner on the Applicability of Mathematics and Naturalism.S. Bangu - 2006 - Philosophia Mathematica 14 (1):26-43.
    Steiner defines naturalism in opposition to anthropocentrism, the doctrine that the human mind holds a privileged place in the universe. He assumes the anthropocentric nature of mathematics and argues that physicists' employment of mathematically guided strategies in the discovery of quantum mechanics challenges scientists' naturalism. In this paper I show that Steiner's assumption about the anthropocentric character of mathematics is questionable. I draw attention to mathematicians' rejection of what Maddy calls ‘definabilism’, a methodological maxim governing the development of mathematics. I (...)
  6. The Applicability of Mathematics in Science: Indispensability and Ontology.Sorin Bangu - 2012 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
  7. Wigner's Puzzle for Mathematical Naturalism.Sorin Bangu - 2009 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):245-263.
    I argue that a recent version of the doctrine of mathematical naturalism faces difficulties arising in connection with Wigner's old puzzle about the applicability of mathematics to natural science. I discuss the strategies to solve the puzzle and I show that they may not be available to the naturalist.
  8. Reifying Mathematics? Prediction and Symmetry Classification.Sorin Bangu - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 39 (2):239-258.
    In this paper I reconstruct and critically examine the reasoning leading to the famous prediction of the ‘omega minus’ particle by M. Gell-Mann and Y. Ne’eman (in 1962) on the basis of a symmetry classification scheme. While the peculiarity of this prediction has occasionally been noticed in the literature, a detailed treatment of the methodological problems it poses has not been offered yet. By spelling out the characteristics of this type of prediction, I aim to underscore the challenges raised by (...)
  9. A Theory of Reference Transmission and Reference Change.Alan Berger - 1989 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 14 (1):180-198.
  10. Testability and the Importance of Observational and Theoretical Terms (2011, Vol 18, P 3).L. Bielik - 2011 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 18 (4):474-474.
  11. Ramsification and Glymour's Counterexample.D. Braddon-Mitchell & R. Nola - 1997 - Analysis 57 (3):167-169.
  12. Science and Analysis of Language.Rudolf Carnap - 1994 - Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 2:291-294.
    The developments of recent years have made it more and more clear that one of the most fruitful approaches to the science of science, i.e. to a logical, epistemological and methodological analysis of science, consists in the analysis of the language of science. This analysis is meant not only as an analysis of the general structure of the scientific language, but also as an analysis of the expressions of that language as they are used in science, e.g. of the words (...)
  13. Revolution in Science.I. Bernard Cohen - 1987 - Behaviorism 15 (1):83-87.
  14. Language, Logic, and Method.R. S. Cohen & Marx W. Wartofsky - 1983
  15. Theoretische Begriffe Und Die Prüfbarkeit Von Theorien.Volker Gadenne - 1985 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 16 (1):19-24.
    Summary The non-statement view of scientific theories contains a new conception of theoreticity: A function is „T-theoretical if T must be presupposed for its calculation. On the basis of this conception some philosophers came to the conclusion that scientific theories are not empirically testable because they contain T-theoretical functions. It is claimed that the attempt to test them ends in a circularity: The test of T presupposes T itself.
  16. Structures of Scientific Theories1.Carl F. Graver - 2002 - In Peter Machamer Michael Silberstein (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Science. Blackwell. pp. 7--55.
  17. On the Influence of Philosophical Concepts on the Development of Scientific Theories.A. Koyre - 2005 - Filozofski Vestnik 26 (1).
  18. Making Science Accessible: A Semiotics of Scientific Communication. [REVIEW]Christopher H. Lowrey & Priya Venkatesan - 2008 - Biosemiotics 1 (2):253-269.
    This article serves as a demonstration of how certain models of literary analysis, used to theorize and analyze fiction and narrative, can also be applied to scientific communication in such a manner as to promote the accessibility of science to the general public and a greater awareness of the methodology used in making scientific discovery. The approach of this article is based on the assumption that the principles of structuralism and semiotics can provide plausible explanations for the divide between the (...)
  19. Wolfgang Balzer, C. Ulises Moulines Et Joseph D. Sneed, An Architectonic for Science. The Structuralist Program.Thierry Lucas - 1991 - Revue Philosophique De Louvain 89 (83):522-524.
  20. On Hodgkin and Huxley's Theory of Excitable Membranes.Ulrich M.�Ller & Stephan Pilatus - 1982 - Metamedicine 3 (2):193-208.
    Using Sneed's metatheory an attempt is made to reconstruct Hodgkin and Huxley's theory of excitation of cell membranes. The structure of this theory is uncovered by defining set-theoretical predicates for the partial potential models, potential models, and models of the theory. The function of permeability is said to be the only theoretical function with respect to this theory. The main underlying assumptions of the theory are briefly outlined.
  21. Is Philosophy of Language Really Important for the Foundation of Scientific Realism?Michele Marsonet - 1993 - American Philosophical Quarterly 30 (4):283 - 301.
  22. Observation, Language, and Theory Choice.Donald Robert Meyer - 1981 - Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    The dissertation addresses the issue of theory change in science and the role observation plays in determining theory choice. Three views are examined and contrasted: the traditional logical empiricist view, Kuhn's view that theory change is "revolutionary," and Quine's view that theory change is "evolutionary." The issues which separate the three views of theory change focus heavily on the nature of observation sentences and the extent to which they can be said to provide a theory neutral evidential basis for theory (...)
  23. Contemporary Concepts in Science and Philosophy.Jean Moretti - 1957 - Philosophy Today 1 (1):59-62.
  24. On Hodgkin and Huxley's Theory of Excitable Membranes.Ulrich Müller & Stephan Pilatus - 1982 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 3 (2):193-208.
    Using Sneed''s metatheory an attempt is made to reconstruct Hodgkin and Huxley''s theory of excitation of cell membranes. The structure of this theory is uncovered by defining set-theoretical predicates for the partial potential models, potential models, and models of the theory. The function of permeability is said to be the only theoretical function with respect to this theory. The main underlying assumptions of the theory are briefly outlined.
  25. Creating Scientific Concepts.Nancy Nersessian - unknown
    How do novel scientific concepts arise? In Creating Scientific Concepts, Nancy Nersessian seeks to answer this central but virtually unasked question in the problem of conceptual change. She argues that the popular image of novel concepts and profound insight bursting forth in a blinding flash of inspiration is mistaken. Instead, novel concepts are shown to arise out of the interplay of three factors: an attempt to solve specific problems; the use of conceptual, analytical, and material resources provided by the cognitive-social-cultural (...)
  26. The Unity of Scientific Knowledge in the Framework of a Typological Approach of Theories.Ilie Parvu - 1996 - Theoria 11 (3):7-17.
    The paper proposes a typology of the scientific theories based on the modality of mathematizing (relying on the kind of mathematics which participates to the theory edification and the level of mathematical organizing of the theoretical frame). This gives us, like the classification of the geometries from the famous -Erlagen Program- initiated by Felix Klein, an internal principle for the connection of the different forms or levels of the theorizing, a constructive basis for the understanding of the complex structural nets (...)
  27. Problems Concerning Relation of Specially Scientific, Generally Scientific and Philosophical Concepts and Categories.J. Stachova - 1976 - Filosoficky Casopis 24 (3):298-308.
  28. Concepts of Science: A Philosophical Analysis. [REVIEW]Paul Teller - 1968 - Philosophical Review 82 (1):110-114.
  29. A Critical Examination of the Problem of Theoretical Terms.Ping-Kwan Tham & 譚秉鈞 - unknown
  30. From Vicious Circle to Infinite Regress, and Back Again.C. van Fraassen Bas - 1992 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:6-29.
    The attempt to formulate a viable empiricist and non-foundationalist epistemology of science faces four problems here confronted. The first is an apparent loss of objectivity in science, in the conditions of use of models in applied science. The second derives from the theory-infection of scientific language, with an apparent loss of objective conditions of truth and reference. The third, often cited as objection to The Scientific Image, is the apparent theory-dependence of the distinction between what is and is not observable. (...)
  31. A Formal Treatment of Partial Iota Terms.Geert Vernaeve & Albert Hoogewijs - 2006 - Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 12 (2):349-349.
  32. The Limits of Concept Formation in Natural Science.Gary R. Weaver - 1988 - Review of Metaphysics 42 (1):167-168.
  33. On Achinstein's Concepts of Science.Fred Wilson - 1971 - Philosophy of Science 38 (3):442-452.
  34. Wandering Significance: An Essay on Conceptual Behavior.Mark Wilson - 2006 - Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    Mark Wilson presents a highly original and broad-ranging investigation of the way we get to grips with the world conceptually, and the way that philosophical problems commonly arise from this. He combines traditional philosophical concerns about human conceptual thinking with illuminating data derived from a large variety of fields including physics and applied mathematics, cognitive psychology, and linguistics. Wandering Significance offers abundant new insights and perspectives for philosophers of language, mind, and science, and will also reward the interest of psychologists, (...)
Cognitive Significance in Science
  1. Theoretical Terms and Partial Interpretation.Peter Achinstein - 1963 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 14 (54):89-105.
  2. The Verification Principle: Its Problems and Development.Shane Andre - 1966 - Dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University
  3. Verification and Experience.A. J. Ayer - 1936 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 37:137 - 156.
  4. On the Cognitive Status of Our Best Physical Theories.Jeffrey Barrett - unknown
    There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories are false: In addition to its own internal problems, the standard formulation of quantum mechanics is logically incompatible with special relativity. There is also good reason to suppose that we have no concrete idea concerning what it might mean to claim that these theories are approximately or vaguely true. I will argue that providing a concrete understanding the approximate or vague truth of our current physical theories is not a (...)
  5. XII.—Verification.I. Berlin - 1939 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 39 (1):225-248.
  6. Verification.I. Berlin - 1938 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 39:225 - 248.
  7. Testability and Meaning of Observation Terms and Theoretical Terms.Lukas Bielik - 2011 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 18 (3):384-397.
  8. Testovateľnosť a význam observačných a teoretických termínov.Lukáš Bielik - 2011 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 18 (3):384-397.
    Carnap’s analysis of the language of science had presupposed too close a connection between the semantics and testability. The core problem of the logical empiricist tradition was to show how to provide the interpretation of theoretical terms and hence the explanation of their application to observable entities by means of observation terms. It is argued that the utilization of a much more expressive semantic theory which identifies meanings with hyperintensional entities leads to a clarification of the competencies of semantics and (...)
  9. Meaning and Testability in the Structuralist Theory of Science.Jesús P. Zamora Bonilla - 2003 - Erkenntnis 59 (1):47 - 76.
    The connection between scientific knowledge and our empirical access to realityis not well explained within the structuralist approach to scientific theories. I arguethat this is due to the use of a semantics not rich enough from the philosophical pointof view. My proposal is to employ Sellars–Brandom's inferential semantics to understand how can scientific terms have empirical content, and Hintikka's game-theoretical semantics to analyse how can theories be empirically tested. The main conclusions are that scientific concepts gain their meaning through `basic (...)
  10. Amending the Verification Principle.Robert Brown & Alonso Church - 1950 - Analysis 11:87.
  11. Amending the Verification Principle.Robert Brown & John Watling - 1950 - Analysis 11 (4):87 - 89.
  12. Testability.R. E. Butts - 1999 - In The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. pp. 908--909.
  13. Testability and Meaning, 1936.Rudolf Carnap - 1937 - Kwartalnik Filozoficzny 14 (1):55-61.
  14. Testability and Meaning--Continued.Rudolf Carnap - 1937 - Philosophy of Science 4 (1):1-40.
  15. Testability and Meaning (Part 2).Rudolf Carnap - 1937 - Philosophy of Science 4 (4):1-40.
  16. Testability and Meaning.Rudolf Carnap - 1936 - Philosophy of Science 3 (4):419-471.
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