Explaining Referential Stability of Physics Concepts: The Semantic Embedding Approach [Book Review]

The paper discusses three different ways of explaining the referential stability of concepts of physics. In order to be successful, an approach to referential stability has to provide resources to understand what constitutes the difference between the birth of a new concept with a history of its own, and an innovative step occurring within the lifetime of a persisting concept with stable reference. According to Theodore Arabatzis' 'biographical' approach (Representing Electrons 2006), the historical continuity of representations of the electron manifests itself by the numerical stability of experimental parameters like the charge-to-mass ratio, and the continued acceptance of earlier experiments as manifestations of electron properties. I argue, against Arabatzis' approach, that the stability of experimental parameters justifies the assumption that there exists a chain of representations of a unique theoretical entity only if this stability occurs against the background of evidence for theoretical continuity. The Bain/Norton approach proposes to add exactly this element to the picture, but fails to reach its aim by focusing on formal similarities of Hamiltonians as an indicator of theoretical continuity. I shall argue that theoretical continuity has to be demonstrated rather on the level of particular solutions. This task is accomplished by the semantic embedding approach by means of defining a co-reference criterion for theoretical terms requiring the existence of semantic embedding relations between the terms that occur in particular solutions of different theories
Keywords Concepts  Co-reference  Physics theories  Reference  Theory change
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2011
DOI 10.1007/s10838-010-9127-8
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 37,208
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Knowledge and its Place in Nature.Hilary Kornblith - 2002 - Oxford University Press.
Concepts of Science.Peter Achinstein - 1968 - Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

What is Stability?S. O. Hansson & G. Helgesson - 2003 - Synthese 136 (2):219 - 235.
Community Ecology, Scale, and the Instability of the Stability Concept.E. D. McCoy & Kristin Shrader-Frechette - 1992 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:184 - 199.
Concepts and Theoretical Unification.Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):219-220.
The Weight of Context: Headscarves in Holland. [REVIEW]Odile Verhaar & Sawitri Saharso - 2004 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 7 (2):179-195.
Ecological and Lyapunov Stability.James Justus - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (4):421-436.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
9 ( #582,797 of 2,309,219 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #448,680 of 2,309,219 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature