Models, analogies, and theories

Philosophy of Science 31 (4):328-350 (1964)
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Recent accounts of scientific method suggest that a model, or analogy, for an axiomatized theory is another theory, or postulate set, with an identical calculus. The present paper examines five central theses underlying this position. In the light of examples from physical science it seems necessary to distinguish between models and analogies and to recognize the need for important revisions in the position under study, especially in claims involving an emphasis on logical structure and similarity in form between theory and analogy. While formal considerations are often relevant in the employment of an analogy they are neither as extensive as proponents of this viewpoint suggest, nor are they in most cases sufficient for allowing analogies to fulfill the roles imputed to them. Of major importance, and what these authors generally fail to consider, are physical similarities between analogue and theoretical object. Such similarities, which are characteristic in varying degrees of most analogies actually employed, play an important role in affording a better understanding of concepts in the theory and also in the development of the theoretical assumptions



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Peter Achinstein
Johns Hopkins University

Citations of this work

How science is applied in technology.Mieke Boon - 2006 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (1):27 – 47.
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Maxwell’s contrived analogy: An early version of the methodology of modeling.Giora Hon & Bernard R. Goldstein - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 43 (4):236-257.

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References found in this work

The methodological character of theoretical concepts.R. Carnap - 1956 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 1 (1):38--76.
Models in physics.Mary B. Hesse - 1953 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 4 (15):198-214.
Theoretical terms and partial interpretation.Peter Achinstein - 1963 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 14 (54):89-105.

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